The U.S. government routinely takes 18 to 24 months to screen would-be Syrian refugees before they are allowed to board flights to the United States.
Meanwhile, an estimated 20 million people fly to the United States each year from visa waiver countries such as France and Britain.
U.S. officials have quietly acknowledged that they are far more worried about the possibility that would-be attackers from the Islamic State or other militant groups could enter the United States as travelers from visa waiver countries rather than as Syrian refugees.
Officials have acknowledged that a European traveling to Syria to train with a group like Islamic State might be able to later enter the United States without significant scrutiny, if they are not already known to U.S. intelligence or partners such as Britain’s domestic intelligence agency MI5 or France’s DGSI.
Consequently, the White House have just announced changes to the U.S. visa waiver program so that security officials can more closely screen travelers from 38 countries allowed to enter the United States without obtaining visas before they travel.