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Publication

January 5, 2009Client Alert

New Pre-Screening Requirement for Visa Waiver Program Travelers

Effective January 12, 2009, foreign travelers entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program must go through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”) process, a new online security measure, available by clicking here. The Visa Waiver Program allows individuals from certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. After January 12, 2009, Visa Waiver Program travelers who do not obtain ESTA authorization may be denied boarding, experience delayed immigration processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Currently, Visa Waiver Program travelers must complete an I-94W card upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. The ESTA online application requires travelers to provide the same biographical and eligibility information currently required on the I-94W card. Once the ESTA application is complete, the information provided will be run through various law enforcement databases to determine if the traveler poses a law enforcement or security risk. While travelers may complete the ESTA application at any time before departing for the United States, travelers are encouraged to apply early, even before travel plans are finalized. Individuals unable to obtain ESTA authorization will be required to apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy abroad in order to enter the United States.

To obtain further information on the Visa Waiver Program, please contact José A. Olivieri at 414.225.4967, or jaolivieri@michaelbest.com, or Kelly M. Fortier at 414.277.3460, or kmfortier@michaelbest.com.

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