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Newhouse Praises Visa Waiver Reform to Strengthen National Security

December 8, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representative Dan Newhouse (R-WA), released the following statement after the House approved H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. Rep. Newhouse cosponsored the bill to enhance security screening for participants in the Visa Waiver Program. This program was created in 1986 and allows nationals from 38 participating countries to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days for business or tourism without obtaining a U.S. visa, as long as they present a valid passport.

“This common sense legislation strengthens our national security by making urgent reforms to address vulnerabilities in the Visa Waiver Program,” said Rep. Newhouse. “In light of the threat we face at home from ISIS terrorists, improving screening of foreign travelers to ensure the safety of the American people should be our top priority. I cosponsored this bipartisan bill to give our intelligence community additional tools so that we can scrutinize foreign nationals seeking to visit our country and better share intelligence with partner nations. Closing existing loopholes and tightening the screening process for travelers from participating countries are necessary steps to block those who would do us harm from entering our country.”

H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 will make the following changes to the Visa Waiver Program:

 

  • Gives the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to suspend a country’s participation in the program if they fail to share counterterrorism information with the U.S.

 

  • Denies Visa Waiver Program status to those citizens from participating countries that have traveled to certain terrorist hotspots including Iraq and Syria since 2011

 

  • Requires all Visa Waiver Program countries to use fraud resistant “e-passports”

 

  • Allows for the suspension of high-risk countries