New US visa system could be postponed

The introduction of the Electronic System for Travel ­Authorisation for the US could be postponed if not enough people know about it.

US Department of Homeland Security attaché to the UK Michael ­Restovich said the e-forms, which are replacing the green forms travellers fill in on flights to the US, are still scheduled to be introduced for January 12 2009.

However, as concerns grow that the public are unprepared for the e-form, which should be completed a minimum of 72 hours before departure, and with this year’s UK visitor numbers set to break all previous records, Restovich has admitted the date could be postponed.

He said: “Homeland Security isn’t going to shut the [tourism] industry down, that date is moveable if we haven’t got the message out.

“We don’t want to move the date and we’re going to be watching to make sure it is a success. However, if it looks like it is not going to be working on January 12, Homeland Security will do something.”

Restovich made the ­comments after delegates at Visit USA’s annual general meeting earlier this month raised concern that not enough was ­being done to publicise the changes, which would see passengers who haven’t got an ESTA prevented from boarding their flights.

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