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.
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