New restrictions on the ESTA visa waiver program have recently been announced. These restrictions pertain to individuals who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria and to nationals of visa waiver countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding 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 Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such 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:
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. 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.
Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel.
If you have questions about how these changes may affect your ability to apply for ESTA or to travel to the U.S. using your existing ESTA authorization, please contact Managing Partner Michael Wildes at email@example.com.
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