Washington has given Athens until next April to improve security levels of Greek identity cards in order to preserve the right of Greek nationals for visa-free travel to the United States as part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) of the US Department of State.
Until that time, the new Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for Greek nationals will be valid for one year, instead of two years as was the case until April 1. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US under the visa waiver program.
As part of the new guidelines set out by American authorities, Athens must introduce the technology required to enhance the security of cards. According to experts, current IDs can easily be forged.
Countries participating in the visa exemption program are required by this coming fall to cross-check criminal records of non-citizen residents using Interpol databases.
Under the program, the citizens of 38 countries, including almost all European Union member-states, are allowed to travel to the US for tourism or business without a visa.