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Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act

By Michael Niren February 1, 2016 2 min. read
Visa Waiver Terrorist Prevention

Important New Restrictions For Visa Waiver Program Announced

The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 was officially established as a law on December 18th, just before congress went on holiday. As a result, the Visa Waiver Program now has additional restrictions that affect a portion of applicants who previously met Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and other visa requirements.

Changes in the Waiver Program and Terrorist Travel Prevention Focus On Iraq, Iran, Syria and Sudan

New restrictions deal with recent attempts to stem terrorist activity, which the U.S. government believes more likely from visa waiver program applicants who hail from, or have visited, specific Middle Eastern and African countries. According to the U.S. Department of State website, the new regulations restrict the following people:

While this affects a relatively limited number of people applying for the program, getting around this obstacle will certainly affect the plans of those who happen to get caught in these new restrictions.

Exceptions and Solutions

These new changes do not apply to anyone who visited Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan to perform military service or diplomatic duties on behalf of Visa Waiver Program countries. Further exemptions exist but remain somewhat opaque as further announcements about the program are pending.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection stress for all travellers to review their ESTA before purchasing tickets or travelling to United States territory. If your ESTA is revoked because of the 2015 act, you may still be able to enter the country.

If travelling to the U.S. for pressing issues such including humanitarian, medical and business purposes, the best course of action will be to contact a local U.S. Embassy and Consulate. Depending on your case, they may be able to hasten the visa application process in order to meet important travel deadlines.

Otherwise, if you happen to fall under the new restrictions, you likely will not be able to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, requiring that you obtain a visa through other options.

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Belinda Maraj

Our experience with the team at VisaPlace has been absolutely amazing. Special thank you to Nadia Bakhtiari whom we had the pleasure of partnering with. Nadia was attentive, empathetic, knowledgeable, professional, friendly and accessible. She provided guidance and kept us in the loop every step of the way. We were so impressed with the professionalism and exceptional client experience from VisaPlace that we partnered with them for both our PR application and our citizenship application. Thank you VisaPlace and thank you Nadia!

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betty klassen

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Arash Sorkhabi

I’m satisfied with the expertise and professionalism with which my case was managed and handled. I wanted to take this opportunity to thank the firm for its support. Although it has been a long process time due to Covid, Nadia has always been one of the first people to guide me step by step through the path during this stressful and unprecedented time. I strongly recommend VisaPlace to anyone seeking legal counsel.

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Sarb walia

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Shannon Wilde

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Julia Rood

I reached out to VisaPlace kind of on a whim, knowing that I needed to apply for permanent residency in order to stay with my spouse and our two cats. They were immediately and incredibly responsive, and almost instantly made me feel that I was dealing with professionals who cared about my case.

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Sanjida Prima

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