Switzerland to remain in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program after signing agreements with the U.S.A.

Bern. Switzerland and the United States of America have signed the Preventing and Combating Serious Crime (PCSC) agreement―an agreement providing for the exchange of fingerprints and DNA data―and the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-6)―a memorandum of understanding on exchanging intelligence on persons suspected or known to be engaged in terrorist activities. The conclusion of the agreements allows Switzerland to remain in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), allowing Swiss nationals to enter and travel throughout the U.S.A. without a visa for up to ninety days.

The PCSC agreement was signed in Washington, D.C., by the director of the Federal Office of Police, Dr. Jean-Luc Vez, and Assistant Secretary of International Affairs of the Department of Homeland Security Alan D. Bersin. The agreement governs the exchange of fingerprint and DNA data used for combating and preventing serious crime that carries a custodial sentence of more than three years. The data are to be exchanged in two steps. First, a request for information is to be made to find out whether certain data are stored in one of the databases operated by the other party. The result of the request is either a “hit” or “no hit”, meaning that the other party either has some information or has no information. If a hit is returned, personal data and other information relevant to a case are disclosed to the requesting party in the second step.

The memorandum of understanding on HSPD-6 is aimed at improving cooperation in combating terrorism under the existing statutory provisions. It was signed on Wednesday by Dr. Vez and Mr. Robert Muller, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Conclusion of both agreements was a precondition for Switzerland’s remaining in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program in which it has participated since 1986. The signing of the agreements also offered both countries the opportunity for a general exchange of ideas on police co-operation.

Last modification 13.12.2012

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