US House Votes To Tighten Controls On Visa-Free Travel

09 December, Washington

US lawmakers have voted overwhelmingly to impose restrictions making it more difficult for visitors to Iraq, Syria and countries listed as supporting terrorism to travel visa-free to the United States.

The House of Representatives voted 407 to 19 yesterday in support of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement Act of 2015.

The bill backed by the White House in the aftermath of the deadly attacks in Paris that were conducted by extremists, who could have traveled to America without a visa. It would bar people who traveled after 1st March 2011 to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan from participating in the visa-free program.

The Visa Waiver Program is available to citizens of 38 countries, largely US allies and relatively stable developed democracies.

US officials say about 5,000 Europeans have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight with extremist groups like the Islamic State and pose an enhanced risk to the United States.

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