I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of a friend who was unable to leave Singapore because his passport has less than 3 months’ validity. I’m not sure what happened after that, but I think he got someone else to go in his place.

Yes, immigration rules are aplenty and it’s sometimes daunting to just look through and understand everything. Well, there’s going to be another change again. This time, for travellers going to the United States. With effect from next Monday, Singaporean travellers who wish to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme will have to apply online at http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. This is put in place as part a security measure by the US after the Sept 11 bombing.

Of course, visitors will also have to be aware of other prevailing immigration rules when travelling out of Singapore. Speaking of which, if you are not aware yet, all new biometric passports are only valid for 5 years and are no longer carrying the NRIC number as the passport number. Yes, so it means having another set of numbers to remember while filing in the immigration. Oh well.

Leaving for US soon? Get approval online

FROM next Monday, Singaporeans travelling to the United States will have to apply online for approval before they leave for the country.

The US Embassy sent out a reminder yesterday about the new rule taking effect.

Singaporeans who hold biometric or machine-readable passports can enter the US without the need for a visa.

All they have to do is submit a form, similar to an embarkation card but more detailed, to the US authorities when they arrive in the country.

However, Singaporeans who want to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme will have to apply at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov for approval with effect from Jan 12.

Travellers are advised by the US authorities to apply at least 72 hours before travelling.

The online application and authorisation process is free currently, but the US government reserves the right to charge a fee in future.

Approved travellers are allowed to make multiple visits to the country for up to two years.

The new system was put in place by the US Department of Homeland Security as part of its security measures after the Sept11, 2001 terror attacks.

Officials from the US Homeland Security said it will vet applicants to determine whether anyone poses a potential threat.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_323272.html

Article extracted on 8th January 2009

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