On August 6, 2015, United States Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson announced plans to increase security for countries whose citizens can participate in the Visa Waiver program. The Visa Waiver program currently includes 38 countries. Citizens of those countries can apply for admission to the United States as a visitor without first obtaining a United States visitor visa, provided each person first registers online using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA.
Citing a global threat environment as a reason to know more about those persons using the VW program, DHS announced three new security requirements: (1) VW Program travelers now must use e-passports; (2) DHS will use the INTERPOL Lost and Stolen Passport Database for VW travelers; and (3) DHS will seek to expand its use of U.S. air marshals on flights from VW countries to the United States.
DHS considers these changes as part of is commitment to do more to address a growing threat of foreign terrorists, without impeding international travel to the United States.