Enhancements include required use of e-passports for all Visa Waiver Program travelers, mandated use of INTERPOL's lost and stolen passports database, and permission to expand use of U.S. marshals on incoming international flights.
The bill would expand the program that permits visitors from certain participating countries to enter the country without a visa as a way to boost tourism in the United States, but some have fears that the program could also potentially admit terrorists.
Concerned about the rising number of people with Western passports fighting with terrorist groups, Homeland Security Department officials earlier this week began collecting more information about international visitors who aren't required to get a visa to enter the United States.
Two Homeland Security Department officials testified before a Senate subcommittee that international travelers face several challenges, such as increased wait times and poor service at many U.S. ports of entry, but efforts are underway to improve those areas as the U.S. tries to reach a goal of attracting 100 million visitors annually by 2021.
Broad-based use of biometric screening standards worldwide and interoperability between the Homeland Security Department and other agency systems are among the most significant technology improvements since Sept. 11, 2001, says Robert Mocny, DHS director of US-VISIT.
Terrorist information sharing originating in countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program--under which foreign citizens are mostly exempt from having to apply for a visa to travel to the United