WASHINGTON – Congressman John Shimkus (R, Illinois-15) took another step to keep terrorists out of the United States today, voting with a bipartisan majority to strengthen the U.S. Visa Waver Program.
“Last month I voted to halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees in the United States until the Administration can guarantee that each individual poses no threat to our own security,” said Shimkus. “Today I voted to require anyone who has traveled to those same areas in the last five years to obtain a visa before they can come to the U.S. for any length of time.”
H.R. 158, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act also requires that countries participating in the program enhance their own security screening and information sharing with U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials. Failure to comply is grounds for suspension or termination from the Visa Waver Program.
“These efforts would not be as urgent if the Commander-in-Chief would to take aggressive and decisive action against Islamic militants in their safe havens abroad,” added Shimkus.“The best thing we could do for not only our own freedom and security, but for the innocent refugees and our allies abroad, is to defeat the uncontained menace known as ISIL and help bring an end to the Syrian civil war.”
Created in 1986, the Visa Waiver Program allows nationals from certain countries, most of which are in Europe, to enter the United States as temporary visitors (for up to 90 days) for business or tourism without first obtaining a visa from a U.S. consulate abroad. Those entering through the program are required to present a valid passport and meet certain other requirements (including an online security screening) prior to travel.
Temporary visitors from non-Visa Waver Program countries must always obtain a visa from U.S. Department of State officers at a consular office abroad before traveling to the United States.