by Moses Apsan, Esq.
On March 4, 2010, the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, designated Greece as a country that is eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Accordingly, this rule updates the list of countries authorized to participate in the Visa Waiver Program by adding Greece. This final rule is effective on April 5, 2010.
Citizens and eligible nationals of participating (Visa Waiver Program countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant aliens for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa,) provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements
Background - The Visa Waiver Program
Pursuant to section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1187, the Secretary of Homeland Security (the Secretary), in consultation with the Secretary of State, may designate certain countries as Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries if certain requirements are met. Those requirements include, without limitation: (1) Meeting the statutory rate of nonimmigrant visa refusal for nationals of the country; (2) a government certification that it issues machine-readable passports that comply with internationally accepted standards; (3) a U.S. government determination that the country's designation would not negatively affect U.S. law enforcement and security interests; (4) an agreement to report, or make available through other designated means, to the U.S. government information about the theft or loss of passports; (5) government acceptance for repatriation any citizen, former citizen, or national not later than three weeks after the issuance of a final order of removal; and (6) an agreement with the United States to share information regarding whether citizens or nationals of the country represent a threat to the security or welfare of the United States or its citizens.
The INA also sets forth requirements for continued eligibility and, where appropriate, probation and/or termination of program countries.
The designated countries in the VWP include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
Citizens and eligible nationals of VWP countries may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant visitors for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. To travel to the United States under the VWP, an alien must be from a participating country and must satisfy the following:
(1) Be seeking entry as a tourist for ninety days or less;
(2) Be a national of a program country;
(3) Present an electronic passport or a machine-readable passport issued by a designated VWP participant country to the air or vessel carrier before departure; \2\
(4) Execute the required immigration forms;
(5) If arriving by air or sea, arrive on an authorized carrier;
(6) Not represent a threat to the welfare, health, safety or security of the United States;
(7) Have not violated U.S. immigration law during a previous admission under the VWP;
(8) Possess a round-trip ticket;
(9) Waive the right to review or appeal a decision regarding admissibility or to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any action for removal; and
(10) Obtain an approved travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) in advance of travel. For more information about the ESTA, please see the interim final rule at 73 FR 32440 (June 9, 2008), and implementing notice at 73 FR 67354 (November 13, 2008). See Sections 217(a) and 217(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1187(a)-(b). See also 8 CFR part 217.
DHS, in consultation with the Department of State, has evaluated the country of Greece for VWP designation to ensure that it meets the requirements set forth in section 217 of the INA, as amended by section 711 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Act). The Secretary has determined that Greece has satisfied the statutory requirements to be a VWP country; therefore, the Secretary, in consultation with the Secretary of State, has designated Greece as a program country.
This final rule adds Greece to the list of countries authorized to participate in the VWP. Accordingly, beginning April 5, 2010, citizens and eligible nationals from Greece may apply for admission to the United States at U.S. ports of entry as nonimmigrant visitors for a period of ninety days or less for business or pleasure without first obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.
Source: Federal Register: March 31, 2010 (Volume 75, Number 61)