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< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Federal Register: November 13, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 220)]
[Notices]               
[Page 67353-67354]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr13no08-108]                         


[[Page 67353]]

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Part V





Department of Homeland Security





-----------------------------------------------------------------------



Customs and Border Protection



-----------------------------------------------------------------------



The Electronic System for Travel Authorization: Mandatory Compliance 
Required for Travel Under the Visa Waiver Program; Notice


[[Page 67354]]


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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY

Customs and Border Protection

[USCBP-2008-003; CBP Dec. No. 08-44]

 
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization: Mandatory 
Compliance Required for Travel Under the Visa Waiver Program

AGENCY: Customs and Border Protection, DHS.

ACTION: General notice.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announces that, 
beginning January 12, 2009, all nonimmigrant aliens traveling to the 
United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must obtain an 
approved travel authorization from the Department's Electronic System 
for Travel Authorization (ESTA). To comply with ESTA, VWP travelers 
must provide electronically to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) 
the information currently collected on the I-94W Nonimmigrant Alien 
Arrival/Departure (Form I-94W) through the CBP ESTA Web site and 
receive authorization to travel before embarking on travel to the 
United States.

DATES: Nonimmigrant aliens traveling to the United States under the VWP 
on or after January 12, 2009 are required to obtain travel 
authorization through ESTA.

ADDRESSES: 
     To apply for travel authorization under ESTA, visit the 
Web site: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/.
     For additional information on ESTA, visit the Web site: 
http://www.cbp.gov/esta.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Beverly Good, Office of Field 
Operations, CBP.ESTA@dhs.gov or (202) 344-3710.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    Citizens and eligible nationals of participating Visa Waiver 
Program (VWP) countries may apply for admission to the United States at 
a U.S. port of entry for a period of 90 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. See 8 CFR 217. The countries which are 
currently eligible to participate in the VWP are listed in 8 CFR 
217.2(a).\1\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ Further details regarding the VWP are contained in the 
background section of the June 9, 2008 interim final rule, at 73 FR 
23440 and on the Web site www.cbp.gov/esta.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Section 711 of the Implementing the Recommendations of the 9/11 
Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Act) requires the Secretary of Homeland 
Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to develop and 
implement a fully automated electronic travel authorization system. 
Section 711 requires that this system collect such biographical and 
other information that the Secretary of Homeland Security determines 
necessary to evaluate, in advance of travel, the eligibility of the 
alien to travel to the United States, and whether such travel poses a 
law enforcement or security risk. Section 711 also requires the 
Secretary of Homeland Security to publish a notice in the Federal 
Register no less than 60 days before DHS implements ESTA as a mandatory 
program. Public Law No. 110-53, Title VII, Sec.  711(d)(2); 8 U.S.C. 
1187 note.
    On June 9, 2008, DHS published an interim final rule in the Federal 
Register (73 FR 23440) establishing the ESTA program for aliens 
traveling to the United States under the VWP.\2\ As required under 
section 711 of the 9/11 Act, the interim final rule provided that ESTA 
would be implemented as a mandatory program 60 days after publication 
of a notice in the Federal Register. See 8 CFR 217.5(g). This notice 
satisfies the requirements of the 9/11 Act and the interim final rule.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ The comment period for the interim final rule expired on 
August 8, 2008. CBP is in the process of analyzing the comments 
received.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    ESTA is designed to improve the security of the VWP by requiring 
that nonimmigrant aliens traveling to the United States under the VWP 
provide biographical information and answer VWP travel eligibility 
questions before departing for the United States. Each approved ESTA 
generally is valid for a period of two years, such that an alien may 
travel to the United States repeatedly within a two-year period without 
obtaining another ESTA. Travelers whose ESTA applications are approved, 
but whose passports will expire in less than two years, will receive an 
ESTA that will be valid until the passport's expiration date. Travelers 
from countries that have not entered into agreements relating to 
passport validity for purposes of return of the traveler to his or her 
home country will not be issued an ESTA that will remain valid more 
than six months before to the expiration of his or her passport. For 
more information about ESTA, please refer to the interim final rule 
published in the Federal Register on June 9, 2008, at 73 FR 32440.

Implementation Notice

    This notice announces that all nonimmigrant aliens traveling to the 
United States under the VWP on or after January 12, 2009 must obtain 
travel authorization under ESTA prior to embarking on an air or sea 
carrier for travel to the United States. DHS continues to recommend 
that VWP travelers obtain travel authorizations as soon as they begin 
to plan a trip to visit the United States, in order to facilitate 
timely departures.

    Dated: November 7, 2008.
Michael Chertoff,
Secretary.
[FR Doc. E8-26997 Filed 11-12-08; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9111-14-P




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