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Privacy Government United States News

Visitors To US Now Required To Register Online 734

Posted by kdawson
from the e-papers-please dept.
mytrip sends a reminder that starting today, visitors to the US from 35 visa-waiver countries will be required to register online with the Department of Homeland Security in advance. The DHS is asking people to go online for the ESTA program 72 hours before traveling, but they can register any amount of time ahead. Approval, once granted, is good for 2 years. DHS says that most applications are approved in 4 seconds. If an application is rejected, the traveler will have to go to a US embassy and get a visa. CNet reports that information from applications will be retained for 12 years, and eventually up to 75 years.
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Visitors To US Now Required To Register Online

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  • Re:*sigh* (Score:5, Informative)

    by SkankinMonkey (528381) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:19AM (#26431523)
    I was horrified when I went to Japan recently and had to let them take my fingerprints and a picture. I was even more horrified when I complained to my Japanese friends and they let me know that America has the same practice.
  • Not that new (Score:5, Informative)

    by matt4077 (581118) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:32AM (#26431675) Homepage

    The test itself isn't new, it's just online now. I've been filling out those forms for years, and might actually welcome the new procedure. I've frequently been told by flight attendants that the slightest mistake requires to fill out a new form. That includes the different ways some digits are written (1 and 7), writing in the wrong line etc. I've gotten used to it, but for some people it takes five or more tries to get it right which is highly annoying when they're seated next to you.

    BTW: the questions are obviously ridiculous ("Are you traveling to the US to commit a crime?", "Have you been involved in a genocide?"). I guess the goal is to have more legal ammunition if you want to deport someone later.

  • by Shakrai (717556) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:35AM (#26431731) Journal

    Did anybody bother to RTFA?

    Derwood Staeben, U.S. consul general in London, said nearly all applications would be approved in less than 10 seconds. He said travelers would not be required to give any more information than is already requested on the paper immigration forms, which are being replaced.

    This information was already collected. Are we really supposed to believe that collecting it in advance instead of in-flight is really that burdensome? If this is all it takes to deter you from coming to the US then I'm guessing you weren't that serious about coming in the first place.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:39AM (#26431783)

    Do any of the following apply to you? (Answer Yes or No)

    A) Do you have a communicable disease; physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict?

    B) Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities?

    C) Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved , in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies?

    D) Are you seeking to work in the U.S.; or have you ever been excluded and deported; or been previously removed from the United States or procured or attempted to procure a visa or entry into the U.S. by fraud or misrepresentation?

    E) Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child?

    F) Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry into the U.S. or had a U.S. visa canceled?
    If yes: when where

    G)Have you ever asserted immunity from prosecution?

    Hey! Where's the "Are you a terrorist?" one?

  • Cutting it fine (Score:5, Informative)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:40AM (#26431797)
    From tfa [google.com]: Travelers are being asked to fill out the forms at least 72 hours in advance of travel. .... Travelers filling out the online form will be told whether their request is authorized, denied or pending, he said. Those who are marked "pending" must check back in 72 hours to see if they have been approved, he said.
  • Re:Not that new (Score:3, Informative)

    by bdraschk (664148) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:47AM (#26431885)
    Here you are: http://quick-guide-usa.com/travel-to-us-airplane.html [quick-guide-usa.com]
  • Re:Not that new (Score:2, Informative)

    by leuk_he (194174) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @08:55AM (#26432007) Homepage Journal

    rtfa.. on the last line there is a link.

    Extra help: always answer : no.

    I will quote the relevant part (after you filled in that data identifying you) :

    "Do any of the following apply to you? (Answer Yes or No)
    Please select if you need additional help on any of these questions.
    A) Do you have a communicable disease; physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict? *
    Yes No
    B) Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offense or crime involving moral turpitude or a violation related to a controlled substance; or have been arrested or convicted for two or more offenses for which the aggregate sentence to confinement was five years or more; or have been a controlled substance trafficker; or are you seeking entry to engage in criminal or immoral activities? *
    Yes No
    C) Have you ever been or are you now involved in espionage or sabotage; or in terrorist activities; or genocide; or between 1933 and 1945 were you involved , in any way, in persecutions associated with Nazi Germany or its allies? *
    Yes No
    D) Are you seeking to work in the U.S.; or have you ever been excluded and deported; or been previously removed from the United States or procured or attempted to procure a visa or entry into the U.S. by fraud or misrepresentation? *
    Yes No
    E) Have you ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child? *
    Yes No
    F) Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa or entry into the U.S. or had a U.S. visa canceled? *
    Yes No
    If yes: when
    where
    G)Have you ever asserted immunity from prosecution? *
    Yes No

    Waiver of Rights: I have read and understand that I hereby waive for the duration of my travel authorization obtained via ESTA any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

    In addition to the above waiver, as a condition of each admission into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, I agree that the submission of biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and photographs) during processing upon arrival in the United States shall reaffirm my waiver of any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

    * Certification: I, the applicant, hereby certify that I have read, or have had read to me, all the questions and statements on this application and understand all the questions and statements on this application. The answers and information furnished in this application are true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief.

    For third-parties submitting the application on behalf of the applicant, I hereby certify that I have read to the individual whose name appears on this application (applicant) all the questions and statements on this application. I further certify that the applicant certifies that he or she has read, or has had read to him or her, all the questions and statements on this application, understands all the questions and statements on this application, and waives any rights to review or appeal of a U.S.

  • by Moskit (32486) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:03AM (#26432127)

    Waiver of Rights: I have read and understand that I hereby waive for the duration of my travel authorization obtained via ESTA any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.
    In addition to the above waiver, as a condition of each admission into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, I agree that the submission of biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and photographs) during processing upon arrival in the United States shall reaffirm my waiver of any rights to review or appeal of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer's determination as to my admissibility, or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

    So if you decide to travel, you do not have any right to question/appeal decision of the officer at the arrival airport. If he says you go back, you go back, without any possibility to talk with supervisor or explaining your case (you just waived that by submitting online request).

  • by Kopiok (898028) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:04AM (#26432135)
    It's actually a return to the exact same. You already have to fill out these forms. They just made it electronic now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:06AM (#26432185)

    I just checked the official program site and this program does not apply to Canadians.

  • by oliderid (710055) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:09AM (#26432235) Journal

    When I select a destination for my holidays, I browse my favorite web sites, select the destination, pays and that's it. All I need is my passport if I travel outside the EU. And even outside of it, a lot of countries only need my ID card (Turkey, Norway, Switzerland, Morocco and dozens of others).

    I'm simply not used to such a procedure. I'm not used to give my private data to a foreign state. I don't like it. (granted if my business requires it, I will do it).

    Okay I'm just a tourist but some developed countries make some of their biggest incomes out of it (Spain, France, Italy, etc.). With so many harassment you feel quite insecure (feeling like they could stop you at the airport and ruin your holidays for ludicrous reasons).

  • by mbone (558574) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:15AM (#26432377)

    "You" (i.e., the foreign national) never had any rights to begin with. Just ask anyone who has had to get a US visa in the last 8 years (if not more). They rarely turn them down, the visa just never appears (which has the same effect, of course). And, there is no reason given and no appeal.

  • by xcal78 (1451701) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:39AM (#26432793)
    And people wonder why the US likes to check and double check who's comming into the country? "A security van carrying blank visas and passports was hijacked near Manchester in north England at 6:40 a.m. Monday, 28 July 2008. At least 3,000 blank passports and visa stickers in 24 brown cardboard boxes - intended for distribution to embassies and consulates abroad - were stolen." Ref: http://www.workpermit.com/news/2008-07-30/uk/blank-e-passport-visa-theft-england.htm [workpermit.com]
  • by Yer Mum (570034) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:42AM (#26432839)

    The thing is if you fly to Spain from outside the Schengen zone you have to do a similar thing, although your airline forwards the data on your behalf. And so on for the other Schengen countries (if a Schengen country doesn't currently require it then it'll be rolled out soon).

    The main difference between the US and EU might be some aspect of data retention, where usually in the EU the data is deleted after one or two years and there are a few more limitations on who can get to see that data, unlike the US.

    So effectively the US and the EU are equally screwed in this respect and each new 'advance' in technology on one side of the pond will end up appearing on the other side, sooner or later.

  • by likes2comment (1021703) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:45AM (#26432895)
    Osama Bin-Ladin was registered without a problem from a public library terminal.
  • by MadMidnightBomber (894759) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:51AM (#26432975)

    I find it ironic that your unelected upper house is the voice of sanity in the UK. Perhaps you made a mistake when you stripped them of all their power?

    It is indeed ironic, but I think you'll find that most of that work was done in the 1911 parliament act [schoolnet.co.uk]. Can't blame the Dear Leader (aka Tony Blair) for that one. They have got plans to get rid of hereditary peers, but nothing's happened as yet.

  • Re:Not that new (Score:3, Informative)

    by leuk_he (194174) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @09:54AM (#26433029) Homepage Journal

    When you will in that form there is nobody who can help you. If you are too dumb to figure out the correct answer then you might replace the president of the USA. They don't want that. So just fill in the correct answer.

  • Countries Affected (Score:5, Informative)

    by prograde (1425683) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:01AM (#26433149)

    If anyone is wondering, here's a list of the 35 visa-waiver countries:

    Andorra
    Australia
    Austria
    Belgium
    Brunei
    Czech Republic
    Denmark
    Estonia
    Finland
    France
    Germany
    Hungary
    Iceland
    Ireland
    Italy
    Japan
    Latvia
    Liechtenstein
    Lithuania
    Luxembourg
    Monaco
    Netherlands
    New Zealand
    Norway
    Portugal
    Republic of Malta
    San Marino
    Singapore
    Slovakia
    Slovenia
    South Korea
    Spain
    Sweden
    Switzerland
    United Kingdom

  • Re:Herd instict (Score:2, Informative)

    by ubercam (1025540) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @10:15AM (#26433359)

    Depending on which EU country you live in, the next passport you get will be a biometric one (Germany already has them, possibly others as well) so the US and any other suitably equipped countries will be able to acquire a digital photograph of you from the passport to compare against the printed one, and presumably you standing in front of them. Also I believe a digital copy of your finger prints are stored, and are possibly compared on site to yours via a finger print scan. Sorry if that's how how it's done, but that's my best guess of how it would be carried out. However, in light of your comments, I think you'd forgo the option to get such a passport.

    The USA has my girlfriend's fingerprints and photograph (she's British) since we've transferred flights through Chicago, but until they start taking them from Canadians, they will never have mine. I don't even think my own country or province has them. I don't remember giving them. Personally, I'm not overly bothered about visiting the US anyway, despite it being only an hour's drive to the south. Anything interesting is much further away though... my apologies to North Dakota and Minnesota. The only places I would probably regret not visiting at some point are San Francisco, Boston, Texas, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, so maybe I should get down there before they start all this crap on us Canucks.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:08AM (#26434291)

    now we probably won't because of the queues at the entry barrier.

    I just flew back to the US from Europe; while there were two lines for citizens/non citizens at immigration, they both went to the same agents & seemed to move at the same pace. We were all through by the time the bags were coming out. This was at Dulles, which is small compared to JFK or O'Hare, but generally the lines aren't that bad. It's much the same as entering Europe; transferring at Heathrow I had to get my picture taken etc, but it was pretty quick. A lot of this stuff is crap, but at least they're getting better at making it flow smoothly.

  • by drsquare (530038) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:27AM (#26434627)

    Then vote the fucking assholes in the Surveillance^WLabour Party out of office

    We only get to vote once every five years, and then they only need 35% of the vote to win power.

    I'm growing weary of hearing Britons whine about your surveillance soceity while you keep electing the same assholes who are busy setting it up.

    Two thirds of us voted Labour out in 2005 yet they're still here. You must have confused Britain with a democracy or something.

    Perhaps you made a mistake when you stripped them of all their power?

    It was the Labour government who reformed the House of Lords and filled it with their own friends and donors. Like I said, you're thinking of democracies. Even the Germans got to vote for Hitler.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:31AM (#26434685)
    A simplified version of the algorithm used by Canadian Border Services to determine whether you would be be denied entry (unless you get a waiver) is:
    • 1. Where you convicted of a crime?
    • 2. How serious is that same crime considered in Canada?
    • 3. How long ago was the conviction? If the crime was very serious by Canadian standards, you will be denied entry for a long time after your conviction; if it was less serious, you will be denied entry for only a shorter time after the conviction.

    #2 is the reason why US people convicted of "misdemeanour" drunk driving in the US are treated seriously at the Canadian border - drunk driving is actually considered a more serious crime in Canada ("felony", by US standards). #2 is also the reason why you won't be denied entry to Canada for something that is completely unrelated to anything considered criminal in Canada.

  • Re:Herd instict (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:32AM (#26434693)

    avoid the bilingual... they seem to be bigger pricks.

    As a Canadian I must confess, it's sad but true.

  • by thirty-seven (568076) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @11:40AM (#26434879)

    There's really no risk to someone who is vacationing in the US of being arrested and held without warrant.

    Quoting from twostix's example: "Maher Arar, a Syrian-born dual Syrian and Canadian citizen, was detained at Kennedy International Airport on 26 September 2002, by US Immigration and Naturalization Service officials. He was heading home to Canada after a family holiday in Tunisia. After almost two weeks, enduring hours of interrogation chained, he was sent, shackled and bound, in a private jet to Jordan and then Syria, instead of being extradited to Canada. There, he was interrogated and tortured by Syrian intelligence. Maher Arar was eventually released a year later." Maher Arar's case has become very well-known in Canada.

  • by forceman130 (1233754) on Tuesday January 13, 2009 @07:35PM (#26441891)
    Huh? The Visa Waiver program is a bilateral deal - the waiver applies going both ways. You don't need a waiver to travel to Japan from the US, just like you don't need a visa to travel to the US from Japan. Same goes for the other waiver countries. You need to fill out entry/exit forms, but that is not the same as a visa.
  • by kklein (900361) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @01:12AM (#26444709)

    I'll go one further.

    I am an American, living abroad, and I, too, used to go home once or twice a year to see friends and family.

    I haven't been back for almost 2 years, but I'm scheduling a trip now, and dreading it.

    My wife is foreign, so that means that even if I am spared the various indignities and hassles (and honestly, citizens aren't spared much of those), I still have to go through them with her. The one time we went through immigration separately like we are supposed to (me in the citizen line, her in the visitor line), they almost didn't let her in because she only had $5 on her and was staying for three weeks (evidently the DHS hasn't gotten the memo about ATMs yet). She was saying that she was married to an American, but US embassies won't even let you register your marriage anywhere with them, so of course there's no record of that (married in Japan). I was finished with immigration and was standing just past the booth, waiting for my wife to appear and getting really panicky, when I was ordered to leave. I went into the hallway and stood at the very edge so I could still see most of the immigration booth, and finally heard my wife's voice calling my name. I looked way down the line and saw a bunch of black-paramilitary-uniformed DHS personnel gathering around her, waving frantically to me. I waved back (still not allowed to join her), and that was somehow proof that we were married and they let her through.

    Now we go together and if they don't like it I just play dumb.

    Also, the TSA has, on two occasions, obviously dumped our luggage onto a floor to check it, then just scooped it back into the bag. They neglected to screw the top of a bottle of shampoo back on after opening it, and ruined all the gifts for my wife's family in that bag. They scratched my mint Strat that I was bringing back to the US to sell.

    And on top of all of this, every person, government or private, at the airport, is curt, rude, and overbearing. Toss into that the possibility that my laptop could be confiscated or my drive mirrored or worse, and going home to see family has become such a burden that I just plain don't do it anymore.

    The whole situation is absolutely unforgivable.

  • by kklein (900361) on Wednesday January 14, 2009 @02:54AM (#26445299)

    From the US, going to Japan requires a pre-approved visa. Leaving Japan requires payment of a tax of some sort. It has been a while, but I don't think there is a payment required for the visa up front.

    I'm sorry, but you're wrong.

    I live in Japan, and have done for almost 10 years. I've entered on student, work, and tourist visas. You obviously need to pre-approve for the two former, but the latter is just a matter of getting off the plane.

    There is no exit tax. You very well may be thinking of the former airport tax at Kansai International in Osaka. For whatever stupid reason, you had to pay that tax not with the cost of your ticket, but by buying a stupid little 2500-yen ticket that you handed to someone as you entered security screening. This caused a lot of trouble to people who were leaving, gleeful that they had spent every last yen, only to find they needed to produce 2500 yen cash to be able to board the plane!

    I don't know how long "a while" it's been for you, but it sounds like it was longer ago than 1998, the first time I came to Japan.

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