Cablegate: Visa Waiver Program: Electronic System for Travel
RR RUEHAT RUEHFK RUEHKSO RUEHLA RUEHNAG RUEHNH
DE RUEHKO #2115/01 2140345
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 010345Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6248
RHMFIUU/DEPT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAORC/US CUSTOMS AND BORDER WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 0024
RUEHOK/AMCONSUL OSAKA KOBE 2890
RUEHNAG/AMCONSUL NAGOYA 7354
RUEHNH/AMCONSUL NAHA 1534
RUEHFK/AMCONSUL FUKUOKA 9160
RUEHKSO/AMCONSUL SAPPORO 9743
RUEHLJ/AMEMBASSY LJUBLJANA 0100
RUEHSM/AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM 0668
RUEHAT/AMCONSUL AMSTERDAM 0025
RUEHLA/AMCONSUL BARCELONA 0016
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN 1465
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS 2275
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2702
RUEHDN/AMCONSUL SYDNEY 0556
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 0140
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 6214
RUEHHE/AMEMBASSY HELSINKI 0311
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 2142
RUEHNY/AMEMBASSY OSLO 1202
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0246
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 7195
RUEHSW/AMEMBASSY BERN 1820
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2130
RUEHBD/AMEMBASSY BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN 0926
RUEHCP/AMEMBASSY COPENHAGEN 0536
RUEHLE/AMEMBASSY LUXEMBOURG 0117
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 1037
RUEHFT/AMCONSUL FRANKFURT 0511
UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 TOKYO 002115
DEPT FOR CA for CA/VO/F/P:JBrennan for CA/P Steve Royster AND
FOR EAP/J Marc Jackson and Ted Bryan
DHS for Office of International Affairs, ICE Office of International
Affairs and CBP Office of International Affairs
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CVIS CMGT PREL PGOV EUN JA
SUBJECT: VISA WAIVER PROGRAM: ELECTRONIC SYSTEM FOR TRAVEL
AUTHORIZATION (ESTA) OUTREACH BY MISSION JAPAN FOR JULY
Ref: A) STATE 78375 B) TOKYO 1711
1. SUMMARY: This cable contains information on outreach activities
to inform the public of ESTA from June 20 to July 31. END SUMMARY.
2. Mission Japan consular and DHS representatives conducted a wide
variety of outreach efforts to publicize the launch of ESTA. After
drafting a power point presentation in Japanese and English
containing ESTA application screen shots, Mission Japan personnel
conducted the following outreach activities:
June 20: Consular officers at Embassy Tokyo met with internal
customers from the Foreign Commercial Service and the Political and
Economic sections to explain the program. These officers are now
equipped to answer questions on ESTA.
June 26: Embassy conoff and DHS officers from ICE, CBP and TSA
attended the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ)
Transportation and Logistics Subcommittee meeting and in an hour
long briefing and Q and A session responded to their members'
concerns. Attending the meeting were representatives from American,
Continental, Northwest and United Airlines as well as other
transportation companies. While they had a variety of questions on
the implementation of ESTA, the main question from the airlines was
how they would find out in their systems that ESTA authorization was
June 27: Embassy conoff met with representatives from Keidanren,
Keizai Douyukai and the U.S. Japan Business Council and gave a
presentation on ESTA. These organizations are Japanese Chambers of
Commerce for larger enterprises.
July 22: Osaka-Kobe conoffs hosted a 90-minute briefing on ESTA for
90 travel agents from 45 different travel agencies and business
associations from the Kansai area. The purpose of the event was to
familiarize travel agents with ESTA, encourage them to test the
system during the August 1-January 11 voluntary trial period, and
attempt to address any outstanding questions or concerns related to
Consular Section Chief David Hillon gave welcoming remarks, both
stressing the newness of ESTA and pledging the U.S. government's
continued commitment to providing stakeholders with the latest
information to better serve their clients. Conoffs also used the
occasion to introduce incoming Osaka-Kobe Consul General Edward
Dong, who, on his first day as the new consul general, welcomed the
group and expressed Osaka-Kobe's support (for what?).
Vice Consul Gary Schaefer delivered the main briefing in Japanese
using a 36-slide power point presentation and a copy of the 9/11
Commission Report. The presentation made use of the latest
information on ESTA, including CBP ESTA website screen shots
provided by Washington via Embassy Tokyo. Among the main topics
covered were: the ESTA roll-out schedule; review of the web-based
ESTA form; and steps in case of ESTA denial. Schaefer also stressed
that ESTA was not a guarantee of admission into the U.S. and that
admission would continue to be handled by DHS on a case-by-case
basis at the port of entry.
Hillon, Schaefer, and NIV Chief Patrick Smeller were on hand for the
Q&A session that followed the presentation. Most questions appeared
to be related to the frequent travel of businesspeople to or through
the U.S., especially as related to the 72-hour advance registration
recommendation and the number of times an applicant may register.
As part of Osaka-Kobe conoffs' efforts to secure greater interagency
cooperation, the Foreign Commercial Service participated in the
event. Commercial Assistant Hirono Taki addressed the audience and
distributed copies of "Discover America - USA Travel Guide," a
colorful and information-packed Commerce Department publication
promoting tourism in the U.S.
The audience made several useful suggestions, including providing
ESTA updates and updated FAQs on our website. Osaka-Kobe conoffs
already distribute information through its cooperative relationship
with the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA), which has proven
to be quite effective in reaching out to the travel agents in the
The following are examples of the questions received:
-- Do business travelers, who take frequent trips to the U.S. and
often visit different cities, need to update their ESTA for each
-- Someone registers through a travel agent, goes on a trip, and
then travels again later using a different travel agent, which
registers the traveler again. What happens to the original ESTA
-- How will airlines know if someone is or is not registered?
-- Can a traveler show up at the airport for a flight less than 72
hours after registering? How many hours before a flight can someone
-- Does it matter how many times you register?
-- What happens if a traveler doesn't remember when his or her ESTA
expires? What if a traveler is registered by multiple agents?
-- What happens if erroneous information (e.g., passport number,
birth date, etc.) is entered? How can the information be updated?
What happens if you enter an incorrect passport number or DOB and
you don't discover it until less than 72 hours before the flight?
What should you do?
-- Is there any difference between individuals registering
themselves and travel agents doing it? Can travelers see who
registered for them? Currently, the DS-156 form has an area that
shows if a travel agent prepared the application (questions 39 and
40 on page two). Will ESTA have the same system?
-- What happens if someone suddenly cancels a trip after registering
-- How should someone transiting through the U.S. (e.g., on the way
to and from Mexico) register with ESTA? Should it be done twice?
What kind of information should be included?
July 23: The Tokyo Consul General and the DHS Senior Representative
met with the American State Offices Association (ASOA) to brief
members on ESTA. Representatives from the state offices of Alabama,
Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas,
Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina,
Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas,
Virginia and West Virginia attended. Foreign Commercial Service
representatives were also present. The questions asked were:
-- Does ESTA apply to transit travel?
-- Does it provide for emergency last minute travel?
-- Do you have to go back into the system if you change your
July 29: The Tokyo Visa Branch Chief and a CBP Assistant Attache
held two ESTA seminars in the Embassy Tokyo auditorium with
simultaneous Japanese and English power point presentations
containing ESTA application screen shots for a total of 351
participants. Attendees were mainly from airlines (29) and travel
agencies (316). There were some Ministry of Foreign Affairs and
travel magazine journalist participants as well. The presentations
were well received and the ESTA application screen shots with
Japanese translations were given to the participants as handouts.
Below are some of the questions that were asked:
-- Will the system issue an authorization with the expiration date?
-- We understand that multiple trips are permitted during an ESTA
authorization, and that the authorization is valid for two years.
What if an itinerary is JAPAN-SAN FRANCISCO-BRAZIL-CHICAGO-JAPAN, or
multiple cities in the U.S.? Do I need to update ESTA? Do I need
to apply for ESTA each time if my destinations are different?
-- (1) Is it possible to change the ESTA information less than 72
hours before the flight? (2) Do I need to submit an I-94W even if I
have obtained ESTA? (3) What if my family name has changed after I
obtained ESTA? Should I reapply for ESTA? If so, what happens to the
previous ESTA, e.g. will it be deleted, or will it still remain in
-- Any possibilities for: (1) applying by means other than
internet?; (2) applying less than 72 hours?;(3) travel from a third
country such as Brazil or Canada?
-- If I update ESTA, will it extend the expiration date? What if I
already have a transit visa?
-- (1) The Australian Embassy accepts inquiries by telephone for
those who are denied ETA because his or her name is exactly matched
with a criminal record. Is the U.S. Embassy going to have such a
service? (2) Do children and infants also need to apply for ESTA?
(3) If destination and/or arrival dates change after the traveler
has obtained ESTA, should he or she reapply or update? (4) Do
travelers still need to submit an I-94W? (5) Do Official Passport
holders who don't have visas and transit the U.S. need ESTA? (6)
What if my ESTA expires while staying in the U.S.?
-- What if a visa holder comes back to Japan and goes to the U.S.
for a different purpose (e.g. an E-visa holder goes to the U.S. for
tourism)? Does he need to apply for ESTA? (2) Do I need to void a
previously issued ESTA when I have to update the information?
-- Do people need to fill out an I-94W even during the optional
period? People might think that they don't need to fill out an
I-94W. Do you inform travelers about that on the web?
-- Can we check if our clients already have an ESTA? Can we print
out of an authorization page?
-- Do you have any specific form for travel agents to use to obtain
ESTA information from their clients?
-- Can third parties update ESTA info?
-- Can travel agents apply for ESTA on behalf of customers?
-- What should we do about travelers who need to travel urgently,
within 72 hours of the flight?
-- What procedures should be followed for handling emergency
travelers at an airport check-in counter?
-- Under ESTA will you use the same criteria currently used to
authorize entry into the U.S.?
-- Will travelers be unable to board a plane without ESTA as of
-- Will you work with the carriers to have a system in place so that
the carrier can check ESTA at check-in?
-- Will the airlines be able to ask for authorization at check-in?
-- When will the I-94W cease to be used?
-- If you forget you have registered for ESTA, what do you do?
-- If I got ESTA approval but put in the wrong name and DOB and I
get to the POE and the inspector sees that the information doesn't
match the information in my passport, will my inspection take
longer? Will I be taken to secondary?
2. Mission Japan continues to work as a team to conduct outreach on
ESTA and has plans for further events in the coming weeks. Our next
initiative will be a survey of travel agents and their experience in