THE DEPARTMENT of Homeland Security announced that as of June 26, 2005, everyone travelling under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must present a machine-readable passport to travel to the United States without a visa.
Machine-readable passports include two optical character typeface lines at the bottom of the biographic page of the passport that helps confirm the passport holder's identity quickly. A sample image of a machine-readable passport may be found at http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#4.
Visa Waiver travellers who do not have a machine-readable passport may also apply for a non-immigrant visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad if seeking entry for business or tourist visits to the United States. Information on the Visa Waiver Program and how to apply for a US visa is available at www.travel.state.gov and www.unitedstatesvisas.gov. Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries living in Slovakia may apply for a visa at the US Embassy in Bratislava. Complete information on the visa application process is available at http://www.usembassy.sk/consular/index.php
Background: Since October 26, 2004 nationals of all 27 of the Visa Waiver Program countries were required to present a machine-readable passport for visa-free travel to the United States. Nationals of Andorra, Brunei, Liechtenstein, and Slovenia have been required to present a machine-readable passport for visa-free travel since October 1, 2003. Belgian nationals travelling under the auspices of the Visa Waiver Program have been required to present a machine-readable passport since May 15, 2003.
Since October 26, 2004, the Department of Homeland Security has provided immigration inspectors at US borders and ports of entry the authority to grant a one-time entry at no charge to Visa Waiver travellers arriving without a machine-readable passport. This limited period will end on June 26, 2005. On that date, transportation carriers will be fined $3,300 per violation for transporting any Visa Waiver traveller to the US without a machine-readable passport. VWP travellers arriving in the United States on or after June 26, 2005 without a machine-readable passport should not anticipate being granted one-time entry into the US.
The Department of State has been working closely with Visa Waiver Program countries to communicate information about the machine-readable passport requirement to their citizens. Since October 26, 2004, Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection officers have been notifying Visa Waiver travellers entering the United States with a letter explaining the machine-readable passport requirements.
The machine-readable passport requirements do not affect the separate deadline requiring Visa Waiver Program country passports issued on or after October 26, 2005, to contain biometrics in order to be used for visa-free travel to the United States.
For more information, contact the US Embassy by calling +421 (0) 254-430-861; faxing +421 (0) 259-223-080; or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
20. Jun 2005 at 0:00