Congressman Robert Pittenger

Representing the 9th District of North Carolina
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Preventing Terrorism: Pittenger's visa security legislation approved

Dec 8, 2015
Press Release




WASHINGTON – In a strong bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation co-sponsored by Congressman Robert Pittenger to modernize the Visa Waiver Program and address vulnerabilities which could be exploited by terrorists.

“We are at war with radical Islamist terrorists, and it is vital that we review and update our security procedures,” said Congressman Pittenger (NC-09).  “Right now, a European citizen who joined ISIS could exploit the Visa Waiver Program to slip into the U.S. undetected.  We are fixing that vulnerability while still preserving visa waivers, which are beneficial to our economy.”

Currently, citizens of 38 U.S. allies are given the privilege of bypassing the visa process when traveling to the U.S. for vacation or business.  Many of the 5000 Europeans who have traveled to Iraq and Syria to join ISIS are citizens of U.S. allies participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act (H.R. 158):

  • Requires citizens of Iraq or Syria, or anyone who has visited Iraq or Syria in the past 5 years, to undergo the full visa process, including stringent screening.
  • Requires countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to share counterterrorism information with the U.S., so we can better cross-check applicants.
  • Requires those applying for a visa waiver to be checked against INTERPOL databases.
  • Requires countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to enhance passport security, including the use of biometrics.
  • Requires countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to participate in the INTERPOL stolen passport database, making it much more difficult for terrorists to travel using stolen documents.

H.R. 158 passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a strong bipartisan vote of 407-19.

Congressman Pittenger serves as Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, and as Vice Chairman of the Financial Services Task Force to Investigate Terrorism Financing.