US to tighten rules for visa-free visits: White House

US Senate Democrats, including Harry Reid, hold a news conference about the proposed tightening the visa waiver program and other anti-terror measures.
US Senate Democrats, including Harry Reid, hold a news conference about the proposed tightening the visa waiver program and other anti-terror measures. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - After recent extremist attacks, the United States is to tighten security procedures for its visa waiver programme for visitors from friendly countries, the White House said Monday.

Among other measures, travellers who are eligible to come to the United States without a visa will henceforth be screened for prior travel to any country deemed a "terrorist safe haven."

US federal agents will also work with the authorities in countries whose citizens are eligible for visa-free travel to help them collect biometric data.

And US "foreign fighter surge teams" will deploy to areas where there is a concern that jihadists returning from war zones may seek onward travel to the United States.

In a fact sheet announcing the measures, the White House appealed to Congress to help fund further security measures for visitors from the 38 visa-waiver countries.