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H.R. 1543 (110th): Visa Waiver Modernization Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Mar 15, 2007.

Visa Waiver Modernization Act - Expresses the sense of Congress that: (1) the United States should modernize the visa waiver program by enhancing program security requirements and extending visa-free travel privileges to nationals of foreign countries that are allies in the war on terrorism; and (2) such expansion will have positive security, economic, and bilateral effects.

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act with respect to the visa waiver program to provide that the Secretary of Homeland Security shall certify to Congress that an air exit system is in place when such system can verify the departure of at least 97% of foreign nationals exiting through U.S. airports.

Authorizes, upon such certification, waiver of low visa refusal rate requirements for a country that meets security and counterterrorism cooperation requirements and has a sustained reduction in visa refusal rates.

Requires the Secretary to: (1) consider specified security-related issues in determining whether to waive low visa refusal requirements; and (2) consider visa overstay rates in determining program eligibility.

Provides for the following program security enhancements: (1) implementation of an electronic travel authorization system which shall provide biographical information; (2) participant country reporting of lost and stolen passports to the U.S. government; (3) participant country acceptance of its citizens or nationals removed from the United States; and (4) security-related information exchange about a country's citizens or nationals traveling to the United States.

Requires the Secretary to establish an exit system that records the departure on a flight leaving the United States of every alien program participant. Requires that such system: (1) match an alien's biometric information against watch lists and immigration information; and (2) compare such biometric information against air carrier manifests to confirm departures.