RealNews

U.S. Closes a Loophole in Visa Requirements

The Bush administration announced yesterday that it was immediately suspending two visa exemption programs that permit foreign travelers to enter the United States temporarily, a move that administration officials said was prompted by intelligence reports suggesting that Al Qaeda was planning to exploit the programs to hijack passenger planes. The programs — one known as Transit Without Visa, the other as International to International — usually permit hundreds of thousands of foreigners each year to pass through the United States without visas on their way to other countries. But in a joint statement yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security and the State Department said that they had received specific intelligence, including information from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Central Intelligence Agency, that certain terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda, had identified the visa and passport exemption programs as a means to gain access to aircraft en route to or from the United States. Full Story

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