US refuses delay on biometric passport
1 April 2005, AMSTERDAM — Europeans who wish to travel to the US will probably need to apply for a visa from 26 October following a refusal by the US government to allow an extension on the deadline for the introduction of biometric passports.
1 April 2005
AMSTERDAM — Europeans who wish to travel to the US will probably need to apply for a visa from 26 October following a refusal by the US government to allow an extension on the deadline for the introduction of biometric passports.
A new passport control system to be used by the US requires passports to be fitted with a special microchip carrying facial characteristics. The system is part of intensified US anti-terrorism measures.
But many European countries will not be able to issue the passports by that date and the US will not accept the old passports.
The US Senate informed the European Commission on Friday that it is unlikely that it will approve another extension to the deadline. Congress already extended the original deadline — October 2004 — last year.
A commission spokesman said the EC was considering the implications of the impending refusal and possible responses.
The spokesman said applications for a visa are "time consuming and laborious". A visa also costs several dozen euros and must be picked up from a consulate or embassy.
European Commissioner for Justice Franco Frattini requested the US via letter last week that it postpone the deadline until the August 2006.
He said EU nations were working hard to introduce the new passports, but that the technical specifications of US demands were issued late.
In reply, the US Senate said several European countries will be able to meet the deadline, meaning that nationals of those countries will be able to enter the US freely without the need to apply for a visa.
The European Commission could not confirm which those countries were on Friday.
[Copyright Expatica News + ANP 2005]
Subject: Dutch news