United States begins implementation of changes to the Visa Waiver Program

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Since January 21, 2016, certain individuals are no longer eligible to the Visa Waiver Program and need a Visa.

The law has changed. (Photo Rémi Vincent)

You are planning to visit the United States and you are a national from a Visa Waiver Program countries, European countries but also Singapur, South Korea or Chile ? Be careful: the law has changed in the United States! The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is perhaps no longer valid for you and you need to apply for a visa.
Indeed, the United States began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program :

  • Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or after March 1, 2011. There is however limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid 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.

These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at the U.S. embassies or consulates. Note that if you need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates are ready to process applications on an expedited basis.

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