At the end of 2015 and in the wake of the recent terror attacks in Paris, Congress made significant changes to the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"), which was created in 1986 and allows citizens of certain countries to enter the U.S. as a tourist without a visa for up to 90 days. In the U.S. this program is administered through an online portal called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, commonly referred to as ESTA. Previously eligible persons are now prohibited from using visa waiver if they have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan since March 1, 2011, or if they are dual nationals of these countries. There are limited exceptions (for example, travel to one of the countries on the list to carry out military service or official government business with a VWP participating country) which can be disclosed on the new ESTA application due to be released later this month.
On January 21, 2016, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol ("CBP") announced that affected individuals began receiving emails notifying them they are no longer eligible to use ESTA. Those foreign nationals will be required to seek a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad if they wish to travel to the U.S. in the future.
CBP published a new set of Frequently Asked Questions on its website concerning the changes to the VWP and ESTA. If you have questions about the changes to the Visa Waiver Program, please contact the attorneys at Iandoli Desai & Cronin P.C. at firstname.lastname@example.org.