Hawaiian Airlines has urged all intending travelers to the U.S. to be aware of new immigration measures, which, from Jan 12, 2009, require visitors to obtain an official U.S. government travel authorization prior to departure.
The airline also urged travel agents to be aware of the new requirements, and to advise intending passengers – including, where possible, those who may already have booked their travel for the new year.
Under new procedures announced by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, travelers wishing to visit the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are now required to “pre-register” their intention to enter the U.S. at least 72 hours prior to their scheduled departure.
This requires all intending travelers to apply online to the Department of Homeland Security for a travel authorization, prior to boarding an aircraft or vessel to the U.S.
Travelers who do not apply for and receive a formal travel authorization ahead of their intended departure date will not be able to board a flight or ship to the U.S. on or after Jan 12.
“This is a very important new requirement for intending visitors to the U.S., and we want to make travelers well aware of the change before they arrive at the airport to board their flight,” said Sherilyn Robinson, sales and marketing manager Australia for Hawaiian Airlines.
“This is not a regulation created by airlines. It is a new requirement from the U.S. government, and where passengers do not have a travel authorization, airline check in staff will not be able to resolve the problem,” Robinson added. “Nor will airlines be liable for any costs or inconvenience where travelers do not have a travel authorization and are not able to travel.”
Currently, passengers intending to visit the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are required to complete detailed personal documentation aboard their aircraft or ship, prior to arrival.
The new system brings forward this process, so that U.S. immigration officials can determine whether an intending visitor is eligible for entry to the U.S., prior to their departure from their home country.
To apply for a U.S. Travel Authorization, visit https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta. The authorization is free of charge and the application takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once received, the authorization is valid for two years for holders of valid passports.
For future visits to the U.S., those who have obtained a travel authorization still need to register their travel plans at least 72 hours prior to their intended departure, quoting their authorization number.© Japan Today