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More Visitors to US will be fingerprinted

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More people travelling to the United States as visitors will be subjected to systematic fingerprinting and getting their photograph taken in the wake of tougher new border control laws. These rules will come into effect in September and will apply to visitors from 27 countries, most of which have close ties to the US.

Currently the majority of these countries are part of the visa-waiver scheme and their nationals are considered non-visa nationals. This means that nationals of most of these countries do not require any type of visa to enter the US for less than 90 days at a time.

The Homeland Security Department has said that the stringent measures are required as part of the Government's war on terrorism.

Lobbyists and other interested parties quickly criticised the plans. The Travel Industry Association of America, for example, was greatly concerned about how this might impact tourism from countries in Western Europe, Japan, and other visa-waiver countries. European tour operators were also distressed about the plans, and the Association of British Travel Agents has urged the US Government to reconsider the planned actions, as the move will not encourage UK citizens to travel to the USA.

The countries that will be affected by these changes include the following: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.