With a 407-19 vote, the House of Representatives passed legislation intended to strengthen the visa waiver program in the aftermath of attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. The House bill would require passport-holders of the 38 countries to get a visa to enter the U.S. if they have recently visited Iraq or other countries with significant terrorist activity.
The legislation would prevent any foreign national who has visited Iraq, Iran, Syria or the Sudan in the past five years from entering the US without a visa.
The proposal also contains provisions to make it easier for the US to remove countries from the visa waiver program if they do not cooperate with law enforcement and the intelligence community. Countries that wish to stay in the program would have to have e-Passport technology.
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
Established in 1986, the program makes it easier for foreign tourists to visit the U.S. for up to 90 days, by allowing them to bypass obtaining a visa. Instead, foreign visitors can apply online for a travel authorization, pay a $14 fee and receive word the same day as to whether or not they are approved.
The 38 countries are:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, ,Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.