President Obama endorses Kirk Visa Waiver Bill

Chicago, IL – U.S.  Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) announced that President Obama has endorsed the bipartisan, bicameral Visa Waiver Bill he introduced alongside Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago) last month.

“President Obama’s announcement is a major success for the citizens of Poland and America,” said Senator Kirk. “I look forward to passing this legislation in the Senate and a quick signature from the President.”

On March 7, 2011, Senator Kirk and Senator Mikulski joined Congressman Quigley in spearheading the introduction of the Secure Travel and Counterterrorism Partnership Act in the Senate and House (S.497/H.R. 959), which aims to update and modernize VWP requirements, ultimately making Poland and other U.S. allies eligible to participate in VWP.

The Secure Traveler and Counterterrorism Partnership Act would require applicant countries to maintain an average non-immigrant VISA overstay rate not greater than 3 percent while giving the Secretary of Homeland Security flexibility to waive this requirement in cases where a country’s participation does not pose a threat to law enforcement, security or immigration laws and that country is cooperating fully with the U.S. in fighting terrorism.

In addition, the Mikulski-Kirk bill would authorize the Secretary to place a member country on probation if their overstay rate exceeds 3 percent, sending a strong message to current program members that the United States is serious about ensuring the VWP is a strong component of our security.

For more information on the Mikulski-Kirk bill click here.