Seen via Arthur Frommer's Blog:
As astonishing as it may seem, the Department of Homeland Security has announced that starting January 12, 2009, people traveling to America -- even from countries whose citizens need not possess visas to visit us -- must apply for permission to come here three days in advance of arrival!
As reported by a British travel publication, TravelMole, the U.S. regulations will require "travelers to provide personal information including their name, date of birth and passport details, as well as travel information such as the flight number and destination address in the U.S. This is in addition to Advanced Passenger Information (API), which requires personal and travel details from the time of booking."
All this will need to be e-mailed to the Department of Homeland Security three days in advance of travel. The reason? "The purpose . . . is to allow the Department of Homeland Security to determine whether an individual is eligible to enter the U.S. before they start their journey."
Additional information and commentary on Edward Hasbrouck's blog:
The USA Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has proposed that airlines cruise lines, and operators of all other ships and planes -- including charter flights, air taxis, fishing vessels, etc. -- be required to get individual permission ("clearance") from the DHS for each passenger on all flights or ocean voyages to, from, or via the USA. Unless the answer is "Yes" -- if the answer is "no" or "maybe", or if the DHS doesn’t answer at all -- the airline wouldn't be allowed to give you a boarding pass, or let you or your luggage on the plane.
Many links to documents and comments in the blog post.