The Department of State and Department of Homeland Security issued a joint statement on January 21, 2016 on the implementation of certain changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of up to 90 days without needing a visa. In return, those 38 countries must allow U.S. citizens and nationals to travel to their countries for a similar length of stay for tourism or business purposes without requiring a visa. With the implementation of these new regulations, any foreign national of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan on or after March 1, 2011 are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. In addition, nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan will now need to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process to enter the United States. However, under the new law these individuals may be eligible for a waiver from the Secretary of Homeland Security based on a case-by-case basis. These exceptions may apply to individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan on official duty on behalf of certain organizations (humanitarian NGO, international and regional organizations) and sub-national governments or who traveled as a journalist for reporting purposes.
To read more about these changes, please visit the DHS and DOS joint press release.
Rachel is an intern with the firm and is not a practicing attorney.