UPDATED July 25, 2017
According to a Reuters exclusive, the U.S. State Department (DOS) will now require all nations to provide extensive data to help it vet visa applicants and determine whether a traveler poses a terrorist threat.
The DOS cable specified a report outlining information needed from every country in order to sufficiently vet the nationals of that country in order to obtain a visa, admission at a port of entry, or other immigration benefit. The report establishes standards related to (1) identity management and (2) information sharing on security and public safety threats. It also includes a classified list of countries preliminarily assessed as not meeting the standards set out in the report and a list of those at risk of not meeting these standards.
The cable initiates a 50-day Engagement Period wherein consular posts must inform host governments of the new information sharing standards and request that host governments provide the requested information or develop a plan to do so. The DOS will work with host countries to assess whether the country currently meets these standards and, if it does not, help design a plan to allow it to do so. Non-compliance could result in sanctions.
(1) Identity Management
- Countries should issue (or have plans to issue) electronic passports that conform to International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) specifications and include facial biometrics.
- Countries should regularly report lost/stolen passports to INTERPOL.
- Countries should make available “any other identity information” at the request of the U.S., including additional biographic and biometric data and relevant immigration status.
(2) Security and Public Safety Threats
- Countries should share information on individuals it knows or has reason to believe are terrorists, through appropriate bilateral or multilateral channels.
- Countries should make available criminal history information on its nationals, permanent, and temporary residents who are seeking U.S. visas or benefits.
- Countries should provide exemplar passport and national ID documents it issues to the ICE Forensic Documents Lab.
- Countries should not impede the transfer of information about passengers and crew traveling to the U.S.
- Countries should not designate individuals for watchlisting (national security or criminal) based solely on political or religious beliefs.
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