05 June 2008

American visa program changes to give 72-hours warning

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New rules to the American visa program mean that travellers from some countries who did not previously have to obtain a visa before entering America will now have to give 72 hours notice to the Homeland Security before departing. The measures are in place to strengthen American security and have been officially announced by the Homeland Security.

Once registered, the visa will remain valid for a two-year period, quashing concerns that last-minute business travel will be affected. A Homeland Security official said the system is similar to one which has been in place in Australia for years, yet the Homeland office will require additional information from travellers to gain an American visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Countries which will come under the new arrangements include Western Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and Singapore, with other countries set to join America's VWP. The online registrations will begin in August, with all US-bound customers needing an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) visa. According to the Times, it is thought the new rules will apply to 15 million people a year.

America needs skilled workers: anyone interested in American immigration should complete the American Visa Bureau's online American visa application to see if they qualify for an American visa.

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