U.S. Government Issues New Visa Waiver Restrictions

Summary

New regulation now prohibits dual nationals from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria from participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Anyone from VWP countries who has visited any other these mentioned countries March 1, 2011 does not qualify for the VWP unless they acquire an exemption. Those subject to these limitations who want to come to the U.S. must acquire a B1/B2 (tourism/business) visa from a U.S. embassy. Below are some common answers regarding the Visa Waiver Program.

January 25, 2016


What is the VWP?

  • The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens from 38 different countries to have 90 days of visa-free travel to the U.S. for work or leisure. To participate in the VWP, one must have an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) clearance.

I have a valid ESTA authorization and come to the U.S. on business as a dual national from a VWP country and a listed country of concern. How am I affected?

  • VWP no long applies to you if you have ESTA and are a from a participating VWP country. USCIS may or may not contact you, but regardless you can no longer travel using VWP. You must apply for a B-1 or a B-2 visa at a U.S. consulate.

What happens if I am in the U.S. currently with valid ESTA registration?

  • Your ESTA needs to be valid only when you enter the U.S. You can stay in the U.S. until it expires, but you will need a U.S. visa for your next visit.

I possess ESTA and have been to one of these countries since March 1, 2011. How does this affect me?

  • Customs and Borders Protection (CBP) will not take away ESTA from those who have been to one of these countries, but it is uncertain if you will continue to be accepted via the VWP or if you may be eligible for an exemption.

How will these changes affect an application for a B-1/B-2 visa?

  • There will likely be delays and more security checks due to travel history or dual nationalities. Because of the new VWP rules, it is possible that there will be a large amount of pending visas, which could further delay processing.

Source:Forum for Expatriate Management