The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) this week issued a press release stating that the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which is used to screen travelers to the United States using the Visa Waiver Program, would be modified to include additional data fields. These fields include: aliases/other names, additional citizenships, parents' names, national identification numbers, contact information (email, phone, points of contact), employment information and city of birth. The DHS has indicated that this increase in data collection will assist the agency with the screening of travelers, specifically of individuals from terrorist organizations.
ESTA is an online application that was established in 2008 to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program. The Program allows certain nonimmigrants to enter the United States as a Visitor for Business or Tourism without having to previously secure a B-1/B-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. A Visa Waiver Program traveler is granted a period of authorized stay of 90 days and prior to entry must register with ESTA online at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ and pay a $14 fee. Citizens and nationals of the following countries are eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.