U.S. Homeland Security secretary John Kelly indicated late last week that rather than resolving a dispute with the EU over the Visa Waiver Program, the U.S. may make it more difficult for European visitors.
The Visa Waiver program allows U.S. nationals to travel to Europe without getting visas and allows most, but not all, EU nationals to visit the U.S. the same way. Five EU countries—Poland, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus—are excluded. The EU Parliament has given the U.S. a May 31 deadline to include the rest, after a 2-year deadline expired.
In his remarks at George Washington University, Kelly called for a new review of the whole program, citing terrorism concerns and the possibility that a terrorist with a European passport and waiver could slip into the U.S. He said “We have to start looking very hard at that program, not eliminating it and not doing anything excessive, but look very hard at that program.”
With European travel to the U.S. already in a slump since the Trump administration's attempts at travel bans from certain areas, and with many Europeans having passport stamps from sun-and-fun visits to areas in North Africa that are now suspect, any tightening of the rules could lead to further drops in visits to the U.S.