Effective today we will begin to require the use of more electronic passports, or e-Passports, by all travelers coming to the United States from the 38 countries that participate in our Visa Waiver Program.
The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State published rules in the Federal Register on February 4, 2016 eliminating the nonimmigrant visa exemption for certain Caribbean residents coming to the United States as H-2A agricultural workers. Beginning February19, certain Caribbean residents seeking to come to the United States as H-2A agricultural workers will be required to have both a valid passport and visa.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris, federal, state and local law enforcement and homeland security officials in this country have been in a heightened state of readiness. This past Thanksgiving week, many Americans witnessed this first-hand at airports, train stations, parades, public places and events.
As I have said a number of times now, the current global threat environment requires that we know more about those who travel to the United States. This includes those from countries for which we do not require a visa. Additionally, United Nations Security Council Resolution 2178, adopted last September with our strong support, urges member nations to do more to address the growing threat of foreign terrorist fighters.
Over the last five years, more than 333 million international visitors have traveled to the United States. Growth in spending from these visitors during this period has supported roughly 280,000 new American jobs. Preliminary estimates show the U.S. welcomed a record 74 million international visitors in 2014 alone, and these travelers spent a record $222 billion on expenses including food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, and local transportation, supporting 1.1 million jobs.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Office of Field Operations acting Assistant Commissioner John Wagner, CBP Office of Intelligence and Investigative Liaison acting Assistant Commissioner Troy Miller, and Office of Intelligence and Analysis (I&A) Deputy Under Secretary for Analysis Jenny Lasley address CBP’s security measures to protect the United States from the threat of terrorists and terrorist weapons, including threats connected with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.