Secure Electronic Travel Authorizations: What it means for the border

Written by By Carley Milligan, CNN

As an increasing number of visitors from abroad travel through airports in the United States, new guidelines to be followed by such visitors will be clearer now that the Department of Homeland Security has unveiled its Secure Electronic Travel Authorisation (SETA) program.

Those flying to the US from overseas, except those originating from Canada and Mexico, will need a Secure Electronic Travel Authorisation to land, according to DHS

There are now two types of authorizations, once a visitor obtains a visa through the US, they will receive the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) authorisation and once they travel abroad, they will receive the ICEauthorization, the agency said in a statement.

“The TSA designation does not change the fact that, under US law, individuals from all countries have clear and rational requirements to enter the United States, but we’ve made it easier for certain travelers from those countries to obtain pre-clearance if they apply for a necessary, trusted travel authorisation from an agency such as ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement),” the agency said.

This change also occurs as President Donald Trump’s immigration orders have put extra scrutiny on travelers, and given preference to white, Christian and family refugees and people who are sponsored by an immediate family member.

“As the secretary of homeland security has stated, there will be an increase in enforcement of U.S. law and procedures at our nation’s borders in the coming months,” the agency said.

More security measures at US airports

Seta was rolled out in March 2016 and it granted up to six months’ continuous residency status.

“During this time, travelers arriving to the United States will have a greater understanding of the legal requirements and reassurance that a valid U.S. visa is available to return to the United States safely,” said US Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Jennifer Gabris.

“The introduction of this new type of authorization streamlines the process by which some travelers from selected countries who are in the United States on a valid visa will be able to more quickly enter the United States to travel or work in the United States while also maintaining situational awareness in that country.”

Initially set to be available to about 150 countries, including Sudan, Syria, and Sudan, the US Border and Immigration Services said last year that it had grown to 250 destinations.

More than 100 countries have the Pre-TSA Authorizations, while 100 have additional Authorizations specifically for airport prescreening, the TSA said.

“The United States continues to work with other countries, in addition to the selected countries previously named, to enable travelers from those countries to be recognized for eligibility to enter the United States with a pre-screening credential which will also include a Secure Electronic Travel Authorisation from ICE,” the DHS said.

“Members of civil society have raised concerns about the prospect of entering the United States before obtaining a valid pre-travel document. DHS maintains that all legitimate travelers are subject to entry review at the border. DHS maintains that the implementation of Secure Electronic Travel Authorizations does not impact the ability of legitimate travelers from the targeted countries to enter the United States by international air travel.”

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