February 16, 2016

What to Know About the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Changes

In the past, individuals from countries participating in the United States visa waiver program could travel to the U.S. without first obtaining a visa. As of Jan. 21, 2016, certain individuals will no longer qualify for a waiver and will have to apply for a visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy—a change enacted by the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. In an article published in Law360, Faegre Baker Daniels partner Elaine Kumpula and associates Sari Long and Sherry Sheibani explained who the new law impacts.

“The change affects Europeans and nationals of other participating countries of the visa waiver program, including Japan, Australia and South Korea who hold dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, as well as anyone who has traveled to one of these four countries since March 2011,” the article said.

The writers also discussed the possibility that the law could prompt reciprocal changes.

“Although the 38 participating ESTA countries have not yet announced reciprocal changes to their visa programs in response (for which mechanisms exist under the terms of the visa waiver program), it is anticipated that they will,” the article said. “This means that U.S. citizens may be required to obtain a visa before visiting a visa waiver program country for business or tourism.”

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