Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has said e-passports are now required for all individuals entering the U.S. from the 38 countries included in the Visa Waiver Program.
Johnson said in a statement posted Friday the announcement follows the passage of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act late last year, which required travelers from Visa Waiver countries to have an e-passport or obtain a visa beginning April 1.
The DHS secretary added the e-passport features an electronic chip that contains the holder’s biographical information and is designed to protect passengers from privacy violation and identity theft.
Johnson went on to say the e-passport initiative serves as the latest move in a series of efforts to bolster travel security.
“In the last two years, we have also increased the data collected from travelers from Visa Waiver countries for vetting purposes and have required increased terrorism and criminal information sharing and increased cooperation on the screening of refugees and asylum seekers with countries in the Visa Waiver Program,” Johnson noted.