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U.S. alters visa waiver program, names new ISIS adviser

The United States will start screening passengers who are entering the country under a visa waiver based on any previous travel to a country known as a terrorist safe haven, the Obama administration said Monday.

This new policy was just one of several alterations to the waiver program amidst the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks in Paris in an effort to counter terror measures, USA Today reports.

Though President Obama has resisted Congress regarding new restrictions on Syrian refugees, he is reportedly willing to work with Congress on reforming the visa waiver program, which allows nearly 20 million visitors into the U.S. every year.

The visa waiver program lets in passengers from 38 countries–mostly European countries but Brunei, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, Chile and Singapore as well–into the U.S. without approval in advance for 90 days or less, according to USA Today.

The White House also made an announcement Monday stating that it asked for a review of whether the 38 countries were cooperating with security reviews. This raises the question of whether some countries will be suspended from the visa waiver program.

Additionally, the U.S. will start using photographs and fingerprints to identify passengers more and more. It will also update databases to include any past travel to a terrorist safe haven. According to the State Department, some of those countries are Colombia, Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, Lebanon, Mali, Venezuela, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The visa waver changes will “enhance our security without undermining the international connections that are critical to the strength of our economy,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said. The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI will offer assistance to partner countries to “better facilitate information sharing.”

A new senior adviser to the President–Robert Malley–was also named. Malley will focus only on the anti-ISIS fight.

Malley served as a senior director at the National Security Council for Africa and the Middle East, according to CNN. Earnest said at a briefing in Paris that Malley’s position will be complimentary to that of Brett McGurk–the State Department special envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.

Want to know more about the steps the administration is taking and further steps the White House is working with Congress on? Click here.

About Meredith Rodefer

Meredith Rodefer
Meredith Rodefer is a freelance writer, who focuses on anything from lifestyle blogging to hard news, and dancer. Beyond Youth Independent, she has written for sites such as, and Contact Meredith: