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Cablegate: Responding to Japan On Esta

VZCZCXRO5074
PP RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHC #2910/01 3242000
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191952Z NOV 08
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 6751
INFO RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA PRIORITY 0891
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA PRIORITY 0389
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA PRIORITY 1067
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE PRIORITY 3499
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO PRIORITY 0787

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 STATE 122910

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS PREL JA
SUBJECT: RESPONDING TO JAPAN ON ESTA

REF: TOKYO 1711

1. (U) This is an action request. Please see para 2.

2. (SBU) Embassy Tokyo is requested to share the text below
as a non-paper with relevant officials in the Government of
Japan (GOJ) in response to questions about the Electronic
System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to the United States.

BEGIN TEXT OF NON-PAPER:

The Government of the United States appreciates the
Government of Japan's continuing interest in the ongoing
rollout of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization
(ESTA) and welcomes this opportunity to respond to the
Government of Japan's questions about the system.


Q: Will there be an exchange of diplomatic notes to mark the
implementation of the ESTA requirement as there was at the
inception of the Visa Waiver Pilot Program in 1988?

A: No. The Department of State has not requested its
overseas embassies to deliver formal diplomatic notes
concerning the implementation of ESTA.


Q: Will ESTA be able to accommodate last-minute submissions
from travelers at the airport?

A: ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to
traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program
(VWP), and in most cases, ESTA will provide an almost
immediate determination of eligibility for travel under the
VWP. However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
recommends that ESTA applications be submitted as early as
possible, at least 72 hours prior to travel, or even before
travel is planned. ESTA will accept applications from last
minute and emergency travelers)even at the airport, if they
have access to a computer with internet connections and will
accommodate those applicants without problems in most cases.


Q: Please clearly give us the information on where should we
refer to if ESTA was not authorized.

A: If an ESTA application is denied and the traveler wishes
to continue with the trip, the traveler will be required to
apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
For more about visa application procedures, please visit
www.travel.state.gov.


Q: When traveling to South America or Europe, travelers will
need to update ESTA information by themselves at each time of
their transit. Please tell us what kind of measures we
should take when Traveler forgot to update, and how do you
take procedures.

A: An approved travel authorization via ESTA is only
required for travelers who wish to travel within or transit
the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. An approved
travel authorization via ESTA is generally valid for up to
two years and for multiple entries to the United States.
Travelers may update their itinerary each time they travel;
however, this is not required. A new travel authorization is
only required if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport;
(2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler
changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler's country of
citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the
traveler's previous responses to any of the ESTA application
questions requiring a "yes" or "no" response have changed.


Q: In order to speed up data entering, please upgrade
system, for example: if we enter country of citizenship, the
same country will be entered automatically for passport
issuing country.

A: The Government of the United States appreciates this
request and will consider it within the context of ongoing
efforts to improve ESTA.


STATE 00122910 002 OF 004

Q. Please provide more official announcement to public.
Ordinary people still do not know about ESTA.

A: DHS and the Department of State have been conducting an
aggressive international outreach campaign to inform the VWP
traveling public of the need to obtain an advance travel
authorization via ESTA. These ongoing efforts will be
enhanced over the next several months as additional
information on the ESTA requirement is published through
print media, travel web sites, brochures, trade shows and
magazines, tear sheets, fact sheets, and Frequently Asked
Questions. Consular and immigration officials from
Washington, DC, and from U.S. diplomatic missions throughout
Japan have conducted a variety of outreach activities
intended to publicize the launch of ESTA in Japan. To date,
these efforts have targeted airlines, travel agencies,
business groups, and the media, among other organizations.
The Government of the United States will continue to pursue
outreach opportunities to educate the Japanese public about
ESTA.


Q: In order to check ESTA approval at airline check-in
counters, the ESTA system must be connected to airline
computers. Please inform us of your plans to connect the
system.

A: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Advance
Passenger Information System (APIS)/APIS Quick Query (AQQ)
infrastructure will advise carriers through interactive
messaging if a VWP traveler has received an ESTA, so that the
carrier may appropriately approve or deny the traveler
boarding. DHS has been coordinating with commercial aircraft
and vessel operators on the development and implementation of
messaging capability that will enable carriers to receive
interactive APIS (Advanced Passenger Inforamtion System)
messages pertaining to a traveler's ESTA status. DHS has
updated and provided carriers with the Consolidated User
Guide and UN/EDIFACT Guide to reflect the new ESTA
requirements, and DHS has also been engaged in an aggressive
outreach campaign to the carrier industry to achieve
compliance with APIS pre-departure and ESTA requirements, in
an effort to minimize operational impact. Once all carriers
are capable of receiving and validating messages pertaining
to a traveler's ESTA status, DHS intends to fully automate
the Form I-94W and eliminate the paper form.


Q: In the last meeting, the Embassy explained that during
three months after 1/12/09, it will be considered as interim
period. Is it OK to understand that it will apply to
airlines at the airport also?

A: Not exactly. DHS has been working closely with the
airline carriers to ensure compliance. DHS will implement an
informed compliance period for ESTA beginning on November 17,
2008, for citizens or nationals from the new VWP countries
(Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania,
Slovakia, and South Korea) and for all VWP travelers
beginning January 12, 2009. DHS will continue to work
closely with the carriers to reach full compliance.


Q: If Traveler came to the airport without up-dating flight
No., address in the U.S. or other information which needs to
be updated, should we need to check correctness of all these
information?, or it will be OK for us to just check "ESTA is
authorized or not"?

A: Basically, yes, just check whether ESTA is approved. VWP
travelers may update their travel itinerary and destination
details in their ESTA application; however, this is not
required. The CBP APIS/AQQ infrastructure will advise
carriers through interactive messaging if an alien has
received an ESTA, so that the carrier may appropriately
approve or deny the alien boarding. For the purposes of the
ESTA program, air carriers will be responsible for validating
the ESTA status message and responding accordingly.
Separately, under the APIS Pre-departure Final Rule, carriers
are required to collect and transmit to DHS the "address
while in the United States" (number and street, city, state,
and zip code) for all passengers except U.S. citizens, lawful
permanent residents, or persons who are in transit to a
location outside the United States.

STATE 00122910 003 OF 004


Q: Currently, airline companies are collecting I-94W at the
time of exit from the United States. We understand that
after 1/12/09, travelers using airline companies that connect
to the ESTA system will not be required to submit I-94W.
Will airline companies be required to report exit records to
the U.S. Government in a new way?

A: Until further notice, travelers will still be required to
complete the form. Eventually, the implementation of the
ESTA program will allow DHS to eliminate the requirement that
VWP travelers complete a paper Form I-94W prior to being
admitted to the United States. There are many operational
concerns and prerequisites associated with the elimination of
the paper Form I-94W including the capability of carriers to
validate ESTA status messages. DHS will closely monitor
carrier capabilities and traveler compliance to ensure a
smooth transition to I-94W elimination.


Q: In order to check ESTA approval at airline check-in
counter, ESTA system and airline computer should be
connected. Please let us know your plan of connecting test
and the name of section in charge of the test.

A: The DHS APIS/AQQ infrastructure will advise carriers
through interactive messaging if a VWP traveler has received
an ESTA, so that the carrier may appropriately approve or
deny the traveler boarding. DHS has been coordinating with
commercial aircraft and vessel operators on the development
and implementation of messaging capability that will enable
carriers to receive interactive APIS messages pertaining to a
traveler's ESTA status. DHS has updated and provided
carriers with the Consolidated User Guide and UN/EDIFACT
Guide to reflect the new ESTA requirements. DHS has begun
testing the ability to send and receive ESTA status messages
with individual carriers. Airlines should contact their APIS
Account Manager for additional information about scheduling
testing.


Q: If a traveler is not authorized entry under ESTA, will
he or she will be placed on black list and required to have a
U.S. visa for all future travel?

A: A traveler who has been denied travel authorization via
ESTA will be required to have a valid visa unless the
circumstances leading to the denial have changed and the
individual subsequently obtained an approved travel
authorization via ESTA. Reapplying with false information
for the purposes of qualifying for an ESTA could make the
traveler permanently ineligible for travel to the U.S.


Q: Currently, ESTA is free, but do you have any plan to
charge?

A: DHS is not currently collecting a fee for ESTA
applications. If it is determined later that a fee will be
charged, the fee would be implemented through the U.S.
Government's rulemaking process.


Q: How does one handle cancellations of travel after the
travel is already authorized under ESTA?

A: VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to
travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA.
If a traveler's destination address in the United States is
unknown when he or she completes the ESTA application, the
traveler should enter the name of the hotel or approximate
location he or she intends to visit. Travelers may update
this information when their plans are finalized, but they
will not be required to update their destination addresses or
itineraries should they change after their ESTA has been
approved.


Q: How does one process ESTA approvals if the name of the
traveler changes within 72 hours of departure?

A: A new travel authorization is required if (1) the
traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes
his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender;
(4) the traveler's country of citizenship changes; or (5) the
circumstances underlying the traveler's previous responses to
any of the ESTA application questions requiring a "yes" or
"no" response have changed. If a traveler wishes to correct

STATE 00122910 004 OF 004


an error regarding the critical data (biographical data and
passport information) on their ESTA application, they may
reapply immediately if the ESTA had originally been approved.
If it had originally been denied, they will be required to
wait ten days to submit a new application from the date their
original application was denied.


Q: We request you to set up enough computers, access to ESTA
by mobile phones, and information desks at all the airports
where outbound flights to the U.S. from Japan are involved.

A: The resources that would be required to support this
request are currently unavailable. We appreciate the
suggestion and will evaluate the feasibility in future.
Please note that a third party, such as a relative, friend,
travel agent, or airline employee, may submit an ESTA
application on behalf of the VWP traveler.


Q: A grace period for ESTA needs to be implemented for those
who did not obtain an ESTA in advance until ESTA becomes well
known and until there are no confused travelers at the
airport.

A: Once ESTA is mandatory on January 12, 2009, all nationals
or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United
States for temporary business or pleasure under the VWP will
require an approved ESTA prior to boarding a carrier to
travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP.
Travelers who have not received ESTA approval by the
mandatory compliance date (November 17, 2008, for eligible
citizens or nationals from the Czech Republic, Estonia,
Hungary, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia;
and January 12, 2009 for all VWP travelers) may be denied
boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied
admission at a U.S. port of entry. DHS will implement an
informed compliance period for ESTA beginning on November 17,
2008, for citizens or nationals from the new VWP countries
and for all VWP travelers beginning January 12, 2009. DHS
will continue to work closely with VWP travelers and the
carriers to reach full compliance.


Q: What was the European Union's reaction to ESTA?

A: We defer to other governments to explain their reactions
to the ESTA requirement.


Q: Can ESTA be accessed/data entered from a cell phone?

A: Yes. DHS technicians have successfully accessed and
entered data into the online ESTA website using mobile
internet devices. If the Government of Japan is aware of
specific instances where users are unable to utilize the
online system using mobile internet devices, we would ask
that we be notified of such specific problems. Once an issue
is identified, we will begin research on what is required to
implement necessary corrections and modifications.


Q: Can the Government of the United States set up an
information center, such as a call center, to respond to
questions about ESTA until it becomes well established?

A: The resources that would be required to support this
request are currently unavailable. Travelers are urged to
consult DHS's extensive online resources, including the
online help section within the ESTA application Web site
located at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov, and the answers to the
frequently asked questions that are posted on-line at
http://www.cbp.gov/esta. We appreciate the suggestion and
will evaluate the feasibility in future.


END TEXT OF NON-PAPER.
RICE

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