Jan. 21, anyone that has been in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March
1, 2011, are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States
under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The new rule is part of the implementation of the
Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015,
which was passed by Congress in December.
The new law also forbids any nationals of VWP
countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria to enter the
country using the VWP. Such individuals are able to apply for a visa using the
regular immigration process at U.S. embassies or consulates, the Department of
Homeland Security (DHS) said.
DHS can waive these restrictions on a case-by-case
basis, which will generally be for people 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 on
official duty; as a journalist for reporting purposes; or legitimate
This is the first implementation of the act’s new
rules, which also require screening of all travelers against Interpol
databases; electronic passports with biometric information; and more frequent
threat assessments of the 38 VWP countries.
The VWP, which allows citizens of 38 countries to
enter the U.S. without a visa for visits of up to 90 days, came under scrutiny
after the Paris terrorist attacks in November because most of the assailants
were citizens of France or Belgium, both VWP countries.