As the search for the presumed wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 entered its fourth day Tuesday, questions mounted about why security or immigration officials did not intercept the two Iranians who boarded with stolen Austrian and Italian passports.
Beginning on October 1, the passports of foreign nationals visiting the U.S. from France, Germany, Italy, the UK and 23 other countries must be computer readable or the passport holder must obtain a U.S. visa before entry. Visitors with neither a visa nor a computer-readable passport run the risk of being refused entry, at the discretion of the checkpoint official.
A new U.S. anti-terrorism rule that would have required computer-coded passports for certain foreign nationals entering the U.S. has been put on hold for 12 months. The regulation, to have taken effect on October 1, applies to 27 U.S. trading partner countries whose citizens are not currently required to have a visa to enter the U.S.
Before September 11, biometrics was just one of the hundreds of new high-tech buzzwords flooding into the English language, and one that was meaningless to most people in the aviation industry. But experts say that over the next 12 months, few of us will not have experienced, and benefited from, its effects.
Flight crews and their passengers will be affected by a proposal from the Departments of State and Homeland Security to require a U.S. or foreign passport or other “accepted secure document” when traveling between the U.S. and other countries in the Western Hemisphere. Currently, U.S. citizens in most cases need to show only drivers’ licenses to reenter the U.S. from Mexico, Canada and other countries in the Western Hemisphere.