U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP) changes taking effect

The VWP is designed to facilitate travel to the U.S. for nationals of certain countries, and has not previously taken into account the other nationalities of VWP travelers.

However, the U.S. government is now restricting the VWP for dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. This means that individuals who are dual nationals of a country on the VWP list and one these countries will be unable to travel to the U.S. visa free and will have to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and attend an in-person interview prior to travel to the U.S. Previously, these individuals were able to complete the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and enter the U.S. without needing to obtain a visa.

This new rule will also apply to individuals of a VWP country who have travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011.

There are certain situations where these restrictions may be waived, at the discretion of the Secretary of Homeland Security, including travel as a representative of international organizations, as a journalist, as a person undertaking humanitarian work or for legitimate business-related purposes. The Department of Homeland Security has not yet confirmed the procedure to obtain a waiver of the restrictions.

If you are a national of, or have travelled to, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or and Yemen, please contact us for advice and assistance on obtaining a visa or a waiver of the restrictions.

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