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Dozens of Countries Will Miss New Passport Deadline

March 5, 2004

Dozens of Countries Will Miss New Passport Deadline
March 05, 2004 – More than two dozen industrialized countries will probably miss a U.S.-imposed deadline for providing their citizens with computer-coded passports by Oct. 26 of this year, according to The New York Times.

The U.S. State Department is mandating that 27 countries currently participating in the Visa Waiver Program must begin providing passports with facial-recognition technology by Oct. 26. The mandate was originally scheduled to go into effect Oct. 1, 2003, but NTA and other travel industry associations – through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Americans for Better Borders coalition – raised concerns and the State Department delayed the implementation until Oct. 26 of this year.

Under the ruling, citizens from the Visa Waiver countries – including Japan and 22 European nations – who do not have computer-coded passports must obtain a tourist visa in order to enter the United States. As a result, demand for visas would probably surge to about 12 million in fiscal year 2005, from about 7 million in 2003, creating a workload that would likely swamp consular staff in American embassies and create significant visa backlogs.

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