Let’s face it – the Americans became renowned for their extreme security arrangements. In the wake of a series of terrorist attacks in the US in the early years of the millennium, there have been a number of horror stories related to the stringent checks at American airports and border crossings. Now, the Americans are trying to improve their reputation whilst keeping security at its highest by introducing a new system in the form of online registration.
Basically, all citizens of foreign countries entering the United States, apart from the neighbouring Canadians, will from January 2009 have to register online with the American government at least 3 days prior to their arrival into the USA. The Americans claim that the new scheme will aid the planned visa free programme and avoid delays at airports and land borders. Nevertheless, the scheme has been seen by many parties as another piece of superfluous regulations.
The US is currently making final preparations for the so-called visa waiver plan. For varying reasons, the Czech Republic, Hungary and the South Korea are set to join the list of countries whose citizens don’t need to enter the US territory. The online registration is, therefore, a disguised way of still putting travellers through the visa process, just that it will not take so long. The scheme has been criticised mainly for two reasons. The first is that it could cause some problems for travellers with infrequent access to the internet. The second is that many people simply can’t see any difference between this idea and a visa situation, which effectively eliminates the waiver plan.