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|DHS/USCBP||RIN: 1651-AA72||Publication ID: Fall 2013|
|Title: Changes to the Visa Waiver Program To Implement the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Program|
|Abstract: CBP issued an interim final rule which implemented the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for aliens who travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) at air or sea ports of entry. Under the rule, VWP travelers must provide certain biographical information to CBP electronically before departing for the United States. This advance information allows CBP to determine before their departure whether these travelers are eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP and whether such travel poses a security risk. The interim final rule also fulfilled the requirements of section 711 of the Implementing recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (9/11 Act). In addition to fulfilling a statutory mandate, the rule serves the twin goals of promoting border security and legitimate travel to the United States. By modernizing the VWP, the ESTA increases national security and provides for greater efficiencies in the screening of international travelers by allowing for vetting of subjects of potential interest well before boarding, thereby reducing traveler delays at the ports of entry. CBP requested comments on all aspects of the interim final rule and plans to issue a final rule after completion of the comment analysis.|
|Agency: Department of Homeland Security(DHS)||Priority: Economically Significant|
|RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda||Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Final Rule Stage|
|Major: Yes||Unfunded Mandates: No|
|CFR Citation: 8 CFR 217.5|
|Legal Authority: 8 USC 1103; 8 USC 1187|
Statement of Need: The rule fulfills the requirements of section 711 of the 9/11 Act to develop and implement a fully automated electronic travel authorization system in advance of travel for VWP travelers. The advance information allows CBP to determine before their departure whether VWP travelers are eligible to travel to the United States and to determine whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk. In addition to fulfilling a statutory mandate, the rule serves the twin goals of promoting border security and legitimate travel to the United States. ESTA increases national security by allowing for vetting of subjects of potential interest before they depart for the United States. It promotes legitimate travel to the United States by providing for greater efficiencies in the screening of travelers thereby reducing traveler delays upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry.
Summary of the Legal Basis: The ESTA program is based on congressional authority provided under section 711 of the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 (Pub. L. 110-53) and section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1187.
Alternatives: When developing the interim final rule, CBP considered three alternatives to this rule: 1. The ESTA requirements in the rule, but with a $1.50 fee per each travel authorization (more costly) 2. The ESTA requirements in the rule, but with only the name of the passenger and the admissibility questions on the I-94W form (less burdensome) 3. The ESTA requirements in the rule, but only for the countries entering the VWP after 2009 (no new requirements for VWP, reduced burden for newly entering countries) CBP determined that the rule provides the greatest level of enhanced security and efficiency at an acceptable cost to traveling public and potentially affected air carriers.
Anticipated Costs and Benefits: The purpose of ESTA is to allow DHS and CBP to establish the eligibility of certain foreign travelers to travel to the United States under the VWP, and whether the alien's proposed travel to the United States poses a law enforcement or security risk. Upon review of such information, DHS will determine whether the alien is eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. Costs to Air & Sea Carriers: CBP estimated that eight U.S.-based air carriers and eleven sea carriers will be affected by the rule. An additional 35 foreign-based air carriers and five sea carriers will be affected. CBP concluded that costs to air and sea carriers to support the requirements of the ESTA program could cost $137 million to $1.1 billion over the next 10 years depending on the level of effort required to integrate their systems with ESTA, how many passengers they need to assist in applying for travel authorizations, and the discount rate applied to annual costs. Costs to Travelers: ESTA will present new costs and burdens to travelers in VWP countries who were not previously required to submit any information to the U.S. Government in advance of travel to the United States. Travelers from Roadmap countries who become VWP countries will also incur costs and burdens, though these are much less than obtaining a nonimmigrant visa (category B1/B2), which is currently required for short-term pleasure or business to travel to the United States. CBP estimated that the total quantified costs to travelers will range from $1.1 billion to $3.5 billion depending on the number of travelers, the value of time, and the discount rate. Annualized costs are estimated to range from $133 million to $366 million. Benefits: As set forth in section 711 of the 9/11 Act, it was the intent of Congress to modernize and strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program under section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA, 8 U.S.C. 1187) by simultaneously enhancing program security requirements and extending visa-free travel privileges to citizens and eligible nationals of eligible foreign countries that are partners in the war on terrorism. By requiring passenger data in advance of travel, CBP may be able to determine, before the alien departs for the United States, the eligibility of citizens and eligible nationals from VWP countries to travel to the United States under the VWP, and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk. In addition to fulfilling a statutory mandate, the rule serves the twin goals of promoting border security and legitimate travel to the United States. By modernizing the VWP, ESTA is intended to both increase national security and provide for greater efficiencies in the screening of international travelers by allowing for the screening of subjects of potential interest well before boarding, thereby reducing traveler delays based on potentially lengthy processes at U.S. ports of entry. CBP concluded that the total benefits to travelers could total $1.1 billion to $3.3 billion over the period of analysis. Annualized benefits could range from $134 million to $345 million. In addition to these benefits to travelers, CBP and the carriers should also experience the benefit of not having to administer the I-94W except in limited situations. While CBP has not conducted an analysis of the potential savings, it should accrue benefits from not having to produce, ship, and store blank forms. CBP should also be able to accrue savings related to data entry and archiving. Carriers should realize some savings as well, though carriers will still have to administer the Customs Declaration forms for all passengers aboard the aircraft and vessel.
|Additional Information: http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/|
|Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: No||Government Levels Affected: None|
|Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes|
|International Impacts: This regulatory action will be likely to have international trade and investment effects, or otherwise be of international interest.|
|RIN Information URL: www.regulations.gov||Public Comment URL: www.regulations.gov|
|RIN Data Printed in the FR: No|
|Related RINs: Related to 1651-AA83|
Director, Electronic System for Travel Authorization
Department of Homeland Security
U.S. Customs and Border Protection
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW.,
Washington, DC 20229