New Rules for Visa Waiver Program & ESTA

Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), citizens or nationals of 38 participating countries (see list below) are allowed to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

New U.S. laws after the deadly attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California, make significant changes to the Visa Waiver Program. The new laws add a dual national provision that requires citizens of those countries listed below to get visas if they also happen to be nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan.

Nationality can be conferred through marriage or birth and such nationality is rarely easy to renounce.  An Australia citizen born and raised in Australia may be considered Iranian based on father Iranian citizenship even though never visited the Middle East.  Civil liberties and minority rights groups pointed out that there is no international agreement on the rules of nationality and that many people are dual nationals even if they do not wish to be. (more…)

New Security Changes to the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA

Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will take steps to modify its Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) applications to capture information from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers regarding any past travel to countries constituting a terrorist safe haven. In addition, steps have already been taken to strengthen the screening of those who are traveling to the United States, including security enhancements to the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA. (more…)