The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 2578, which
would extend the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP) through September 30,
1999. The VWPP, which will expire on April 30th, permits business and
pleasure visitors to enter the United States for up to 90 days without
obtaining a visa. To qualify for the program, participating countries must
have a low visa refusal rate and provide reciprocal treatment for visitors
from the United States.
In 1997, 26 countries participated in the VWPP and over 12 million visitors
came to the United States under the program. Failure to extend the VWPP
could result in significant visa processing delays for the millions of
travelers that use the program to travel to the United States each year and
a significant disruption for the U.S. tourism industry.
The Administration would oppose any changes to the current program criteria
used to determine country participation in the VWPP. The current program
criteria are objective, non-country specific, and help to maintain the
security and law enforcement interests of the United States.