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Changes to the Visa Waiver Program

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visa waiver changes

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows certain travelers to visit the United States without a VISA. This program is only available for the citizens of certain countries including most European countries, Australia and some additional countries.

On January 21, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced policies to begin implementing the changes to the Visa Waiver Program that were signed into law in December of 2015. The DHS policies restrict the use of the VWP for:

  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
  • Citizens of Visa Waiver Program countries who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since March 11, 2011 (with limited exceptions for diplomatic or military travel under the official orders of a VWP country).

These nationals are not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), but may still apply for non-immigrant visas in the U.S. Embassies/Consulates. They will be required to visit the interview and obtain a visa before going to the United States.

Beginning January 21, 2016, visitors who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria listed above will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Some categories of visitors will be eligible for a waiver only on a case-by-case basis. These are:

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

Also United States continue investigate: whether and how the waivers can be used for dual nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan? Whether ESTA applicants will receive a waiver? These questions are still opened and need to be solved soon.


To get more detailed information about the Visa Waiver Program, please visit http://www.usimmigrationapplication.org/visas/visa-waiver-program