U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Michael Chertoff signed today a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) interim declaration with Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin. The security enhancements outlined in the declaration continues Bulgaria’s progress on the path toward visa-free travel to the U.S., and possible designation as a VWP member.
“I commend the Republic of Bulgaria for its commitment to these enhancements and our shared values of freedom and security,” said Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. “I look forward to the day when we greet the first visa-free travelers from Bulgaria on our soil.”
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has been authorized by U.S. law for over 20 years, with 27 current members from Asia and Europe. The U.S. Congress authorized DHS in August 2007 to reform the VWP and strengthen the security arrangements required of existing participant countries, as well as to expand the conditions for aspiring countries to join the program.
The security enhancements outlined in the interim declaration represent important progress toward meeting the requirements of the modernized Visa Waiver Program (VWP). They include, better information sharing about international travel and border screening, improvements in information exchange on known and suspected terrorists, timely and comprehensive reporting of lost and stolen passports, developing an air marshals program, and expanding operations for U.S. Federal Air Marshals.