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Taken Questions
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 9, 2002
Question Taken at May 9, 2002 Daily Press Briefing

Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act

Question: What steps are we taking to meet the requirements of (HR3525) awaiting Presidential signature?

Answer: The House joined the Senate May 8 in passing the Enhanced Border Security and Visa Entry Reform Act. The President has not yet signed it. The bill has several provisions that, if it becomes law, would impact the Department of State. It would:

give the Department permanent authority to retain and use Machine Readable Visa fees;
require law enforcement and intelligence agencies to share information needed for visa adjudications through an interoperable database;
change requirements for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to specify that participating countries must incorporate biometrics that meet international standards in their passports by October 26, 2004, report thefts of blank passports, and be reviewed for compliance with program requirements every two years;
provide for closer monitoring of foreign students in the US and require us to establish within 120 days a transitional program that will track students and exchange visitors until the electronic tracking system to be established by INS is operational;
impose security-related controls on issuance of visas to non-immigrants from countries that are state sponsors of international terrorism.

Drafting of specific new regulations will not begin officially until the bill is signed into law by the President. The Bureau of Consular Affairs is already addressing several of the bill's provisions by providing visa data electronically to INS, issuing highly-secure visas that are tamper-resistant and can be read by equipment at ports of entry, and actively working with Canada and Mexico on border security issues. We are discussing with Visa Waiver Program countries how to strengthen the security of the program. We consult regularly with INS on the design and implementation of a student-tracking system.


Released on May 9, 2002