H.R. 1543: Visa Waiver Modernization Act of 2007
Information from the Office of U.S. Representatives Rahm
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Emanuel, Shimkus, Wexler, Berkley Announce Bipartisan Bill to Expand
Visa Waiver Program
Legislation Enhances Security Standards, Improves
Diplomacy, Boosts Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, U.S. Representatives Rahm Emanuel (IL-5), John
Shimkus (IL-19), Robert Wexler (FL-19), and Shelley Berkley (NV-1)
introduced legislation in the United States House of Representatives to
expand the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Modernization Act of 2007
increases the number of countries included in the Visa Waiver Program and
enhances the security standards for all participating countries.
“Expanding this program is a common sense way to provide our closest
international partners, like Poland, the opportunity to travel to the
United States,” said Emanuel. “This bipartisan bill will simultaneously
strengthen security, manage risk, promote international business and
improve our image across the globe. Improving the Visa Waiver Program is
in our economic, political and national security interest and demonstrates
our continued commitment to our allies. The United States should not walk
away from our history of welcoming our friends.”
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), established in 1986 as a pilot program to
promote better relations with U.S. allies, currently includes twenty-seven
countries. The VWP requires any country participating in the program to
meet a series of criteria concerning immigration patterns, security and
law enforcement, reciprocal visa-free travel for U.S. citizens, and
biometric passports that are machine-readable. Last year, President Bush
called on Congress to expand the program to deserving nations making it
easier for citizens of our allies to come to the United States and at the
same time share information to thwart terrorist plots. This bill
accomplishes those goals.
“As Co-Chairman of the House Baltic Caucus, I have worked hard to maintain
the strong relationship between the United States and the countries of
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Since their accession into NATO and their
extraordinary achievements in passport and visa security, their inability
to become a member of the Visa Waiver Program has become an increasing
problem in relations between our countries,” said Shimkus. “With this
important legislation, our allies will be recognized for their ongoing
commitment to the War on Terror and the strong friendship we have, instead
of antiquated requirements that do not reflect the security initiatives
that these countries have in place.”
Specifically, the Visa Waiver Modernization Act of 2007
- Require existing and new program countries to
implement enhanced travel security requirements.
- Establish common standards and policies to limit
illegal entry and impede travel by terrorists and transnational
- Improve and strengthen important bilateral
relationships with key NATO Allies and contributors to operations in
Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Global War on Terror.
- As a condition for the program, require
counterterrorism cooperation and information sharing.
- Require the US officials to monitor when Visa Waiver
Program participants exit the country.
- Improve procedures for measuring any potential
overstays, to ensure compliance with the program.
On March 13, 2007, the United States Senate passed S.4,
Improving America's Security Act of 2007, which included provisions
similar to the language in this bill.