recommended reading

Travelers fee will help support electronic screening program

Secretary Janet Napolitano said DHS wanted the authorization system working before assessing a fee.Saul Loeb/Newscom

The Homeland Security Department will charge nonvisa holders who travel to the United States $14, partly to fund operation and maintenance of an electronic system for authorizing foreign visitors.

The fee, which will apply to Visa Waiver Program participants, includes $10 for travel promotion and $4 for use of the automated Electronic System for Travel Authorization, according to an interim final rule published in the Federal Register on Monday. ESTA collects biographical and other information to help assess whether citizens of countries in the waiver program pose a security risk.

DHS determined the ESTA portion of the fee by dividing the total estimated costs of the system for the next five years -- $324.5 million -- by 86 million, the predicted number of ESTA applicants during the same period. The estimated costs include administering, staffing and operating the system plus overhead. They also include procurement of technology to enhance information sharing between ESTA and other information systems within and outside DHS' Customs and Border Protection bureau. DHS added $12.5 million, which is equal to one fiscal quarter of operating costs, to the total in case travel volumes fall below expected levels.

Homeland Security created the electronic system in June 2008 to comply with a requirement of the 2007 9/11 Commission Act and made ESTA mandatory in January 2009. Though the law authorized the department to charge a fee for ESTA to recover costs, it did not specify an amount.

"DHS wanted to ensure the efficient operation and maintenance of the ESTA system before establishing an operational fee to recoup the costs of processing ESTA applications and vetting individual applicants," DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said in the interim final rule.

DHS will accept comments on the rule until Oct. 8.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.