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Last Updated: Thursday, 15 January, 2004, 09:47 GMT
US Security checks: Your reaction
US flag and fingerprint
British diplomats are said to be working with their US counterparts to try to save thousands of British visitors having to apply for visas to enter the US.

At the moment travellers from 27 countries including the UK can visit the US for up to three months without a visa under the "visa waiver programme".

But from 26 October they will have to carry new "biometric" passports containing digital photographs and fingerprints or obtain a visa from their American embassy.

Earlier this week, it was announced that international travellers arriving in the USA will have their photographs taken and fingerprints checked, under new security regulations.

What do you think of the security measures? Will they make the US safer?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:

Not withstanding the reasons behind this, I'm in total support for global fight against terrorists but to levy any charge for a visa and having to turn up to the USA embassy in London in person, the USA will alienate their most stringent allies. Most Brits for instance go on Holiday to Florida and for most its a once in a lifetime thrill the added expense will no doubt deter this lifetime holiday for the majority. Also I believe that countries affected may very well retaliate and do likewise with the USA citizens. Come on USA more effort on the ground by intelligence and good old fashioned counter terrorism tactics will do more for your credibility than this? You're in danger of becoming isolationists. If that happens then the terrorists have won!
Mitch, Darwen, UK

What worries me is not the security checks but US data protection laws. Is information on non-US citizens protected under US law and if not shouldn't the British Government be insisting the USA bring in legislation to make sure that non-US citizens are covered.
Marie, Kent

As I understand it the UK did not sign up to the Schengen agreement for fear of poor border control. Similarly the US has every right to take such measures as it deems fit to protect its home security. Arriving in the US is a nightmare in any case, huge queues long waits. If you don't want to go - don't go but I'll be back.
Paul Day, Aberdeen, Scotland

I dare say bravo to the Brazilians, I hope that they continue to treat American tourist with the same treatment as those wishing to enter the US are afforded. The way the US treats visitors is appalling to say the least - I have spent three hours in the customs line at Dallas Fort Worth Airport. Bush claims to be a Christian so I say "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
Neli, Lusaka Zambia

I have to say, the thoughtless criticism I've read is astonishing. Most of you can't possibly understand what the new requirements are. So, I will restate: A set of digital fingerprints, and a photograph. There is nothing intrusive, embarrassing or unreasonable about being photographed and fingerprinted.
Eric, Detroit, USA

Until I know my credit card info and personal details won't be abused I'll hold off going to the States
Eoin, London, UK
Until I know my credit card info and personal details won't be abused I'll hold off going to the States. I have many friends and relatives there who are becoming heartily fed-up with what they see as the further encroachment of 'Big Government' into their lives. Others want the government to do more and seem to live in constant tension due to the perceived threats, which the security hype only seems to increase. Until it all settles down and a coherent secure approach is adopted I'll leave off visiting them.

As for the Visas do the US authorities really expect someone from Scotland to travel all the way to London to get a visa in person before they go on holiday? How much will this add to the cost of a holiday in the US? If you add this cost to the rest of a holiday then you could really have a super time elsewhere. There really is an elsewhere and I think American tourism is going to be hit severely by the new penalties imposed on their friends who would like to visit.
Eoin, London, UK

I don't think things will be much safer- what the US fails to see that where there is a will there is a way. So those who want to do harm to the US and its citizens will do so anyhow. Eventually you will have a closed prison - sort of cold war eastern Europe - everything the US is against. Aside from that the US has lost another decent visitor and investor like me. Why should I pass wealth to a country who is increasingly being more aggressive to me.
Omar, Muscat, Oman

If I recall correctly, Oklahoma City was done by an American. So what will the US government do next, fingerprint and photograph every American every time they leave their house?
Victor D, Thailand (ex EU)

I support these new security regulations. Unfortunately there are many anti-US individuals who would take advantage of the 'visa waiver programme' to inflict further misery on the US. I for one have nothing to hide, and so have no problem allowing my fingerprints to be taken. And a quick message to US visitors to this website, please understand that the anti-US comments come from anti-US zealots who wouldn't have visited your country in the first place, so no loss there then.
Michael, Bath, UK

I felt like a total criminal waiting inline to be vetoed. What I don't understand is what is the point of getting a visa? Surely it's up to the US embassies in the respective countries to do a complete background check before issuing a visa, right? And how will it deter terrorists? 911 would have still have happened.
Peter, London, UK

After reading the entire log of entries, the blatant hostility to the USA is crystal clear. Now I am sure we are doing the right thing. 15 seconds is too inconvenient? Then stay home!
Joe, New York

The Americans are going security crazy
Patrick, age 14, UK
The Americans are going security crazy. Fingerprinting and eye recognition is one thing, but visas for UK citizens is quite another. Who do the Americans think they are? We go into Iraq with the US troops and then George "Dubya" Bush goes and repays us like this. They are getting to a point where they are power and security crazy.
And the simple answer to all of this? Don't go to America!
Patrick, age 14, UK

By adopting this measure, the US is once again increasing the level of tension and animosity in the world. This will all backfire leading to more hate and aversion towards the US as a nation. At the end, US citizens will pay the bigger price.
Hardi Wulf Vieira, Netherlands/Brazil

Why not? As long as it is carried out in a fair and impartial way. As long as it is a policy that is blind to nationality, race and creed then it will make the process of travelling a lot safer for all of us. Lets just hope that some people, Arabs, Muslims, non-Europeans etc are not picked on. It is very sad though, to come to this point were there is so much suspicion and fear.
Kariman Mango, Dubai, UAE

On the basis of the animosity towards the my country visible on this board, I say increase the US security checks at every opportunity!
Angelo Morata, Chicago, IL, USA

I definitely don't agree with this. It is no different for example to how the Jews were treated in the time of Hitler - peoples physical characteristics noted as such. It is i believe merely a covert scheme to 'check-up' on people, monitor there whereabouts. It will do no good in deterring terrorists -those already in the US what about them? It's all a bit dodgy if u ask me... US style 'over-the-top'.
Aysh, Palmers Green

YES! The security checks will make the USA safer! At present they let-in every TOM, DICK and HARRY.
Terence Gaffney, UK/USA

The Americans are right in what they are doing
J McMillan, Isle of Man
The Americans are right in what they are doing. If they let anyone into America, then they could be at risk from another 9/11, lets face it how many British Passport holders were actually caught fighting against the Americans and Our Own Boys in Afghanistan and Iraq. We should do everything we can to help the Americans keep the world a safer place and get rid of so called British passport holders who fight against their own born into country.
J McMillan, Isle of Man

The people I really feel sorry for is the Joe Bloggs citizen in the USA. They better wake up soon as this is the 1st step to Isolating the USA, it's like closing the borders to the rest of the World. When will Joe Bloggs see that he does not live in the land of the FREE. He lives in a PRISON.
Tom, Slough. UK

The one thing sadder than America's paranoia is that any Briton would still want to go there. Although born and raised in America I am now a British citizen. Next thing you know, they'll want me to get a visa too! Forget it, I'd rather go to Europe.
Mari Foster, Cheshire

The phrase closing the stable door after the horse has bolted springs to mind
Mark, UK
The phrase closing the stable door after the horse has bolted springs to mind. But if I am wrong and the threats to America are so real and numerous as to warrant these measures then it may be safer to holiday in Iraq.
Mark, UK

As an American who lives a large part of the year in Sweden, all I can say is that I can't wait until my move over here becomes permanent. I feel that I have more freedom and privacy here as well as safety on city streets that Americans have given up. Perhaps the US should just build a wall around itself until it can elect a leader who has a true world view and respect for law abiding citizens of all nations.
Prilla, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

If you don't like the rules, don't come over, we don't need your negative attitudes. Nobody asked you to come here so if you don't want to take the 15 seconds it takes to take a photo and give a finger print then don't, and if you have nothing to hide what's the problem?
Jason, USA

I entered the US two days ago on a student visa, and to be fair the finger-printing and photograph was very painless. I have no problem with the US requiring such things, but the US government does need to appreciate the restriction that will be placed on their tourist industry by UK visitors having to obtain a visa just to visit. Some consultation between the US and UK governments should have taken place to allow a seamless changeover to the new biometric passports. Especially sine were are supposed to be such "special friends".
Kay, NY, USA (Ex-pat)

Every nation has the right to do what it wants to protect its citizens. The problem is with the customs officials. They intimidate and disrespect people, and they did that before 9/11.
Hakim H., Montreal, Canada

We visit the US regularly, but they are making it too time consuming and difficult
Susanne, London
This does seem like a sledge hammer to crack a nut - more details about people coming into the country will be of no use if no one then goes and checks on these "students" - which they should have been doing in the first place. The police check on foreign students in the UK. We visit the US regularly, but they are making it too time consuming and difficult - Canada is looking attractive!
Susanne, London

I have family in Canada and used to fly into the US and drive to Canada. My family will now be avoiding entering the US. This is not because we have anything to hide but rather that we object to the collection of our credit information, home address, other personal information and biometric data by a country that historically cannot be trusted by its guarantees to keep that information securely, destroy it openly and use it appropriately.
Sara, Edinburgh, UK

The implementation of security measures is appropriate for this time due to the reliable terrorist threats to the US. The US has been more strict with its security measures to prevent another attack that will endanger the lives of the American people. The security measures are timely and proper.
Ersa Arriola, Philippines

67 would pay for the flights to anywhere in Western Europe on a budget airline. After foot and mouth for the UK it's about time the USA's tourist industry took a hit- only fair!
Flynn, England

I am amongst the millions of men who want the USA to be safe, one reason they have helped many, they want democracy to flourish at all the corners of the world.
Emmanuel Lobte, Kristiansand, Norway

Let's just do what they want and stop visiting the US and supporting Bush's economy
Phil, UK
Who cares? Let's just do what they want and stop visiting the USA and supporting Bush's economy. Deep-down they want to be protectionist and introverted, so lets leave them to stew in their own juices.
Phil, UK

While not being fingerprinted, I did have my photo taken in Dover prior to boarding a cruise ship and my passport retained. I didn't consider it a hardship and it did make entering and exiting the ship easier afterwards.
Penny, USA

There is no way I am going to take time off work, pay exorbitant rail fares and then fork out money just to get a US visa. I will make a point of boycotting the US as a travel destination until they realise that they cannot unilaterally inconvenience millions of visitors. Florida, in particular, will suffer greatly from reduced visitor numbers - I wonder what Bush's brother Jeb will say to his voters?
Chris, Dewsbury, UK

Most importantly we shouldn't stoop to the same level of paranoia as the US and should not retaliate. This won't increase security from terrorist attacks at all but will suck up resources and detract from the real challenges.
Ulf, Germany

How can Bush say "UK is US's true fried", when his administration treat us like criminals? When Tony Blair is going to act in order to avoid this humiliation that US is doing to the people of his country.
Ferri, UK

We live in a different world these days and people need to understand, not take it as an insult
Rick, Memphis, TN USA
England and the US have always had a good relationship and supported one another during world wars and major world events. You have to understand that after 9/11, we need to know who is coming to our country for our own security. It is not meant to discourage legitimate, law-abiding tourists from visiting. We welcome you. We just want our country to be safe like all countries do. I plan to visit your country soon, and will understand if your government imposes this same restriction on me. We live in a different world these days and people need to understand, not take it as an insult.
Rick, Memphis, TN USA

There is no way that I shall ever give my finger prints unless I am formally arrested under suspicion of a crime. Finger prints, retinal scans, what next? Employment history? Address history? This is sinister..
Paul Prideaux, Liverpool

In the past I've found entering the US to be tedious and badly organised by unpleasant unfriendly people. If the Americans intend to be even more unhelpful and unpleasant the answer is simple. Don't go there, its not worth the visit.
John, Fleet, UK

I suggest America builds a big glass bubble over itself and leaves the rest of the world to it. They can then keep there own pollution and fast food. Everyone else has been dealing with terrorism for years without stopping planes flying because 5 year olds have a strange name!!
Sam, UK

I believe that these requirements are going to force more and more people to holiday in the UK or the rest of the world. So bring it on! The big question is really - do we need the same technology to protect this country? If yes, why aren't we brining in these requirements as well and if not, then why are we yet again 'bowing' to U.S. pressure..
Paul, Didcot, UK

I think it would make sense if every country did it not just one. The systems for getting visas could then all be sped up and we would all feel a little safer.
Sarah, UK

I do not believe the UK should adopt a tit for tat measure the fact that the US tourist industry is going to collapse big time should be sufficient satisfaction
Colin Watson, Swindon
The cost of buying the new visas is not the end of the story, what about the fact that you have to make your way down to London in order to be interviewed, that is an even greater expense than the cost of the visa. Imagine a family of four living in say Glasgow, the cost of them getting to London would be very expensive and to top it off with a bill of 268 for the visas would be just too much, not to mention the inconvenience.

That said, I do not believe the UK should adopt a tit for tat measure and start charging American visitors to enter the UK, the fact that the US tourist industry is going to collapse big time should be sufficient satisfaction for this ill advised scheme.
Colin Watson, Swindon

Welcome to the real world, dear Western citizens. Just to let you know, there are millions of people in the world that have to get visa in order to go to ANY country, including the UK. I am a Russian citizen and I need a visa each time I go abroad, so I have to queue for hours outside the Embassies (and it can get quite chilly in Moscow!), fill in numerous forms, go through humiliating procedures, and pay money for a visa. Regardless if this is a business or holiday trip. So all these things do exist, you just don't know about them.
Liza, Moscow, Russia

Good for Brazil! Checking US visitors will help weed out any terrorists - Timothy McVeigh was American as I recall. It'll also help keep tabs on CIA agents as they covertly roam the world interfering in other countries affairs, destabilising governments etc, all in the name of protecting US 'interests' e.g. planet's oil supplies
Mark, Bristol, UK

When the American people have been subject to such a horrific time the past years, I say let them have their fun. Paranoia ought to ebb away in a few years, and don't forget the American drive for maximum profit: when these draconian measures start to drive tourism away and slow down business travellers, the corporations will demand the dismantling of security in favour of capital.
James Miller, Derbyshire, UK

The inconvenience that travel involves makes spur of the moment plans impossible
Darab Khan, London

Spare a thought for nationals of countries other than the EU and the USA. As an Indian citizen I am required to fill in forms, provide details regarding accommodation, bank accounts, education, work status, and then stand in a queue for at least six hours come rain or shine. Perhaps countries should waive visas for travellers who are active, and have demonstrated themselves to be 'no risk' to either peace or the State's funds. The inconvenience that travel involves makes spur of the moment plans impossible.
Darab Khan, London, UK

Cannot see what all the fuss is about. If the Americans want us to have biometric passports then our requirements should be the same for them.
Mike, UK

I was thinking about this last night and its a convenient way for Labour to get round the ID card dilemma as the US is forcing this decision upon us instead (with the biometric info, the new passports will negate the need for ID cards) So much for us having a say. Blair must have a had a quiet word with Bush so that Tony can now hold his hands up and say its nothing to do with me guv!
Beri, London, England

I'm never going back - and these new measures make that even more certain
James Frankcom, London

I went to the USA last night and found immigration the most nerve racking and intimidating experience of my life. The customs officers were deliberately unpleasant to everyone and clearly got a kick from the power they have. I'm never going back - and these new measures make that even more certain. Go to Europe - America is not worth the hassle.
James Frankcom, London, UK

Having just come back from visiting New York for the New Year, I can only say that I am in full support of these measures and they will not deter me visiting the US in the future. I enjoy holidaying in the US and do not see why I should let these measures force me into holidaying elsewhere. I was in the US on 9/11 and can completely understand why these measures are being introduced. Anything which makes the US safer can only be a good thing surely? If you don't like it, don't go. Simple as that.
Beth, UK

When will the US realise that terrorists tend to live within their 'host' country for years before becoming active?
Lee, Hebburn, England

They aren't going to queue at the embassy just to get a tourist visa, they will holiday somewhere else
Thomas Gray, London, UK
I think the US is shooting itself in the foot here. Do the US authorities not realise that they will lose millions of pounds in the tourism sector. Imagine a British family who holiday every year in Florida, like hundreds of thousands of Brits every year, they aren't going to queue at the embassy just to get a tourist visa, they will holiday somewhere else. A family of four would have to pay 268!! It will come to the point that no one will want to go to America. The American tourist body is very worried about this and rightly so.
Thomas Gray, London, UK

Not too many self-respecting terrorists or criminals will be deterred by any of the measures instituted by US Homeland Security... all we have done is annoy our friends around the world and raise the barriers for the majority of people who want to visit our country. It's embarrassing for globally-aware Americans and only makes the most paranoid among us feel safe. No wonder we're despised when we go abroad.
Susan, US

If you have stayed out of trouble and been a good boy you have no worries about getting into the US. I have just returned back to the country after Christmas at home in Newcastle and I got my prints taken and my photo taken. Just smile and understand there's some individuals around the world trying to blow us all up!
Gav, Michigan, USA

Those of us who own holiday homes in the USA already face difficulties due to 9/11. The American authorities have just made life even more difficult by charging 67 for visas. A family of four will pay 268 on top of their holiday. Potential visitors to the USA will now think twice before holidaying there.
Tina, Maidenhead, UK

I'm a British Citizen currently working in New York on a work visa, so the next time I pop back home, I'll be subject to the new checks. Considering that it took the US over three months to issue me with my work visa, after doing detailed checks on my background and asking probing questions, don't they know enough about me already?
Rhodri Richards, New York, USA

Those in opposition just have to visit other countries instead
Clive, USA
I do not see the big deal about this at all. I personally think that the US are within their right to request biometric data from visitors to their country. Those in opposition just have to visit other countries instead.
Clive, USA

If America wants to lock itself up, let it. Lets go that one step further and stop using American products too!
Dave Marsh, Southampton, UK

These measures may make the US a "safer" place, but what a way to say thank you to the UK for its support on Iraq. I don't think retaliatory measures are necessary, but just impose the same restrictions on holders of US passports visiting England... please.
David J Brown (Ex UK), Tulsa, USA

To Donna, London: Every country has security precautions and that does not equate to "paranoid" behaviour. If that were the case, the UK would have to confess to being paranoid as well. I wonder what people like yourself expect the US to do, have slack security and let all the terrorists walk right in to our country just so you won't be too bothered while you are passing through on your vacation?
Sherry, USA

The answer seems obvious. The new requirement appears to apply only to passports issued after Oct 26 - so if your passport expires anytime in the next 2 years, renew it soon. It's a lot cheaper than a US visa!
Michael, Reading, UK

Next time I'll go to Europe or Australia
Cesar G. Sabbaga, Curitiba, Brazil
I used to receive my US Visa by mail. Now I have to pay a lot for the visas and fly to Sao Paulo(400km). Besides that I wait hours for a visa interview.. Now fingerprints? Next time I'll go to Europe or Australia.
Cesar G. Sabbaga, Curitiba, Brazil

Three years ago, whilst I was living in Kuwait, my passport expired so I had it renewed at the British Embassy. Unfortunately it doesn't have the machine-readable features that are now required. This means that in order to visit the USA again (I do travel out there occasionally) I will now have to spend ?67 on an entry visa and must also travel down to the US Embassy in London from the North of England.

My feelings regarding this situation can easily be imagined. If the USA presses ahead with these new visa plans, Britain should definitely retaliate (just as Brazil has) and insist that American citizens go through the same hassle in order to enter the UK, or transit through the UK en-route to other destinations. Make things even-handed. We will soon learn whether or not Tony Blair is President George Bush's poodle by the way he handles this issue.
Michael Franks, Leeds, England

The USA should stop being so paranoid. If a terrorist wants to enter the USA they will always find a way around the system. Don't penalise the innocent people.
Donna, London

America's desire to protect itself is completely understandable given the events of 2 years ago. However, when that protective instinct turns to paranoia and witch hunt, the balance of fear has gone too far. I think that's what we are seeing increasingly in US policy in all areas right now. May sense prevail and Bush be thrown from office this year... thinking and wishful unfortunately.
Jeff, Loughborough, UK

No problem with the extra security measures. However being a British citizen I do have a problem with the additional cost of having to pay for a Visa
James, UK
No problem with the extra security measures. However being a British citizen I do have a problem with the additional cost of having to pay for a Visa. Maybe the other countries who are also part of the Visa waiver program should now follow the lead of the US and require all American nationals to purchase a Visa to enter our countries, for at least until it is possible for us to produce passports with biometric data. I know it seems childish and a tit for tat approach but it is the only way that they sit up and listen. You only have to see the way they backed down over the steel tariffs.
James, UK

What a price we are being asked to pay just to get George Bush re elected. I trust we will impose similar restrictions on Americans coming here?
P Norgate, Sunbury, Middx

It seems to me that all this security measures serve another cause and not security. If I wanted to enter the US undetected I would just do what the 10.5 mil. illegal workers did and jump over the Mexican border.
Anestis Nikou, Athens Greece

I am an ex-pat and a permanent US resident who used to travel back to the UK to see family but, it's such a bloody nuisance getting back into the US even for one such as myself who has been vetted, finger printed and interrogated that I now stay at home. It's depressing as part of the problem is our immigration officials what ever happened to a) personality and b) innocent until proven guilty in a court of law?
Nick, Kill Devil Hills, USA

It is very interesting to see the reaction of the Americans to the same procedure in Brazil. They don't like it at all. Well done Brazil.
Avelino , Portugal

One question to all complaining about the new US security check: If a digital fingerprint and photograph is too intrusive, what alternative will provide heightened security and yet still be acceptable?
Eric, Detroit, USA

Attempt to ban congregation near toilet areas on board planes whilst on route to the USA is absurd
John Garner, Nottingham, UK
Every country has the right to impose entry restrictions and the UK is no exception but to attempt to ban congregation near toilet areas on board airplanes whilst on route to the USA is absurd and verging on the paranoid. How do they consider this can be policed? What about our natural bodily functions not to say fears of deep vein thrombosis.
John Garner, Nottingham, UK

I plan to avoid visiting the US in the future especially for vacation purposes. Vacations are for rest and recreation; the stress of visiting the US is just not compatible with that. There are plenty of other countries worth visiting.
Chris Ranger, Aberdeen, UK

The people claiming that a few minutes delay is a small price to pay for fighting terrorism have obviously never had to queue up for a US visa. It's not the fingerprinting that will stop me going to the states, it's the hassle of getting the visa and the already unpleasant attitude of their immigration officials.
Chris Richardson, UK

Richard Reid holds a British passport. John Walker Lindh holds an American passport. So what's the point in photographing and fingerprinting people from selected countries?
Ciaran, Pennsylvania

Welcome tourists to Fortress America! We have a new way of 'greeting' visitors to our great country! Can you guess what it is? That's right, we treat you like common criminals! What a fantastic welcome to our great country! Don't have a biometric passport? No problem, buy a visa. But we still get to treat you like a criminal. Our immigration staff are highly trained to be rude as possible. They're so rude that you wouldn't want to come back. Remember: visiting Fortress America is an offence. Don't say we didn't warn you!
Roop, UK






SEE ALSO:
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US imposes new visitor regulations
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