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Department of Homeland Security Issues Visa Waiver Program Changes

DHS is tightening rules on who can travel under the Visa Waiver Program.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that certain travelers will no longer be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), DHS said in a press release Thursday.

The changes come as the U.S. began implementing changes under the VWP and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.

“Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate,” DHS said in a press release issued yesterday. “Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.”

The following travelers are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the U.S. under the VWP:

  • VWP-country nationals who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or after March 2, 2011.
  • VWP-country nationals who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

“The new law does not ban travel to the United States, or admission into the United States, and the great majority of VWP travelers will not be affected by the legislation,” the press release said.

Exceptions to the new rule include diplomatic or military travel.

For affected travelers, they may still apply for a visa through the U.S.’s regular immigration process at embassies or consulates.

Also effective yesterday, travelers who have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who previously indicated dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Under the new law, the DHS Secretary may waive restrictions if he determines that a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include:

  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015)
  • Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.

[Photo: Erik S Lesser/Getty Images]

Comments are Closed.
Alimo January 24, 2016

More idiocy from Homeland Security. The only reason they keep creating "programs" that will "enhance security" is to make people forget that every single one of their past has been an absolute failure that have nearly 100% failure rates...and somehow this new program will be successful. The only thing Homeland Security has been successful in doing is violating the rights of US citizens and instilling ill-founded fear.

jahason January 24, 2016

What is the procedure for getting a waiver if travel to Iran is for business?