WASHINGTON, Nov 3 (Reuters) – Concerned about foreign fighters from Syria and Iraq, Washington imposed extra security measures on Monday for travellers from countries, mostly in Europe and Asia, whose citizens do not need a visa to get into the United States.
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said people from countries in the US Visa Waiver Program will have to provide additional information on an electronic application they need to file to be eligible to enter.
“We are taking this step to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program, to learn more about travellers from countries from whom we do not require a visa,” Johnson said in a statement.
The move was in response to the security threat posed by the possible radicalisation of foreign fighters in Syria who hold Western passports and thus would not arouse suspicion at airports or other entry points.
Thirty-eight countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, or VWP, including the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other European countries as well as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, according to the State Department.
“DHS is concerned about the risks posed by the situation in Syria and Iraq, where increasing instability has attracted thousands of foreign fighters, including many from VWP countries,” the DHS official said on condition of anonymity.