Washington, D.C.--The Polish American Congress (PAC) has received the Department of Homeland Security's announcement for streamlining the entry process of foreign visitors to the United States while simultaneously upholding current security procedures.

The new measures introduced in the Joint Vision initiative aimed at facilitating visitor travel to the United States will affect the increasingly large number of Polish residents who enter the United States on non-immigrant visas each year. More than 161,000 visited the United Statesin 2004, increasing from 145,000 in 2003, and 140,000 in 2002.

The Joint Vision for Secure Borders and Open Doors in the Information Age was introduced by Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Homeland Security Chertoff on January 17, 2006, and comprises an extensive update of the US-VISIT program. US-VISIT currently regulates entry and exit procedures for all foreign nationals visiting the United States on non-immigrant visas or as members of the Visa Waiver Program. Three main categories make up the new Joint Vision initiative: improvements in technology and efficiency; the introduction of advanced, updated travel documents; and the more accurate and efficient screening of visitors in order to ensure national security.

These new measures include expanding the length of student visas; using videoconferencing for visa interviews instead of requiring visa applicants to travel to an embassy; creating expedited business visas; issuing more specific welcome information at airports for when visitors arrive; and making the entry/exit process overall more transparent. The Joint Vision initiative also includes the introduction of biometric and computer-readable passports as well as a system of inexpensive "passport cards" for American citizens crossing the country's land borders are key elements of this part of the Joint Vision agenda.

Finally, the new US-VISIT initiative calls for a wider and more streamlined process for screening potential visitors. In particular, measures such as combining databases and increasing information sharing between federal government agencies as well as with friendly foreign governments intend to cut back on the time needed to investigate visa-applicants with possible terrorist ties.

More information about the US-VISIT program is available at the Department of Homeland Security US-VISIT Web site at http://www.dhs.gov/us-visit

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