In May 2016, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a press release reminding travellers entering into the United States via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) programme of the latest passport requirements.
Visitors traveling to the US under the Visa Waiver Programmes (VWP) were advised to update their travel documents to avoid any potential delays.
According to a statement on the DHS website, travellers were encouraged by the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to also check their passports and their current ESTA status to make sure they were in compliance with the new requirements.
“If a traveller has acquired a new passport, they must submit a new ESTA application,” it advised.
These new changes reportedly came into effect as American lawmakers drafted new visa requirements in the aftermath of the terror attack in San Bernardino, California.
Amid demands for tighter border security, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, initially announced last year August, was signed into law in December 2015.
This new legislation mandated anyone entering the US under the VWP to possess passports with specified features, such features included, having an e-Passport with a digital chip.
According to the DHS, the chip must contain biometric information of the passport owner and must also have a machine-readable area.
These new requirements were announced by the US authorities on April 1 2016. “E-passports are issued by the proper passport issuing authority and must meet international standards for securing and storing information corresponding to the passport and traveller,” a statement on the DHS website reads.
This new development, has, since its implementation, been affecting travellers into the US.
Passengers who didn’t meet the new requirements have reportedly been denied boarding or had their travel plans ruined.
Meanwhile, travellers without an e-passport but eligible for entry into the US under the VWP have been advised to apply for a valid non-immigrant visa at their nearest US Embassy or Consulate.