Last month, the U.S. began implementing changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. As a result, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have announced enhancements to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to accommodate these updates.
The updated ESTA application form is now available. The new form contains additional questions to address the new travel eligibility requirements resulting from the Act. CBP encourages travelers seeking an ESTA to use the enhanced system, which will assist in making determinations on the potential of granting a waiver to the new restrictions.
The new restrictions make certain travelers ineligible to travel or be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The restrictions include nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries specified under designated lists like Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, at any time after March 1, 2011.
For more detailed information on the recent changes and exceptions for travelers who visited these countries on behalf of international organizations, national governments, or journalists, please view our previous blog posts (Changes to the Visa Waiver Program); (Further Travel Restrictions for the Visa Waiver Program).
Individuals can still apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates. The new law does not ban travel to the U.S. or admission into the U.S. but only restricts eligibility for the Visa Waiver Program.
Current ESTA holders should check their ESTA status on CBP’s website prior to any travel.
If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys today!