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Freedom of Travel, U.S. Border Control Issues

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Freedom of Travel, U.S. Border Control Issue

by Kevin Riley, ARDA Federal Affairs 

   The Universal Appeal of Timeshare 

Every year, more than 20 million foreign visitors travel to the United States through the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which allows for citizens of 28 program-partner countries to visit for up to 90 days without having to obtain visas. According to the U.S. Travel Association, 40 percent of foreign visitors to the US come via the VWP each year. This is clearly an important program to our industry and the broader travel industry, and ARDA has fought hard to defend its integrity over the years while also supporting legislation that would strengthen national security requirements.

Bipartisan legislation introduced last year called the Jobs Originated Through Launching Travel (JOLT) Act of 2015 would reform the VWP’s participation criteria to reinstate the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) authority to waive the visa refusal requirement if a country meets all other VWP requirements. The legislation would also enhance security measures, increase the number of participating countries, and allow Canadian citizens over 50 years old to remain in the US for up to 240 days a year. The JOLT Act estimates it would boost the US economy by $100 billion over the next decade and create 700,000 jobs.

However, this program has received increased Congressional scrutiny following the terrorist attacks in Paris. In a preemptive move, the White House announced changes to the VWP to immediately enact a number of security enhancements. Despite these changes, legislation was introduced called the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 to help DHS identify and stop terrorists with Western passports from entering the US. The bill incorporated many of the security parameters that ARDA advocated be included in the JOLT Act. The bill passed and was included in the end-of-year omnibus package.

While ARDA applauds Congress for passing such reform measures, we are still working to address components that would disrupt travel to the US and have a detrimental economic impact. To learn more about these efforts and more details on the legislation, read the full article


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