In the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) introduced some restrictions to the use of ESTA when travelling to the United States. Under the new law, the following individuals will no longer be able to travel with the ESTA:
· Nationals of VWP countries that were present in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Sudan at any point from the of March till date (some exceptions). Since the law came into effect, other countries have been added to the list. These are Libya, Somalia and Yemen. The Department of Homeland Security has the authority to add more names to the list so the list may increases further.
· Nationals of VWP countries that are also nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan.
To make the situation clearer for individuals that may be affected by the new changes, the CBP provided some guidance to the content of this Act. Some of the things to keep in mind from the guidance they provided are covered below:
Exceptions to the physical presence restriction
You will be exempted from the new ESTA restriction if your travel to the mentioned regions was for official government business or official military program. However, this exception will not apply under the dual nationality restriction.
What to do if the restrictions apply to you
Simply apply for a Visa at an American Embassy in your place of residence or in your home country.
Additional questions now included in ESTA .
The new questions asked now when applying for ESTA focus on travel to restricted countries and whether the applicant has received a passport or national identification card by another country. Additional questions will be served based on answers given to original questions.
Determination of dual citizenship
Dual citizenship or nationality will be determined in line with legal standards and practices in the U.S.
The CBP also clearly states who is entitled to a waiver of the restrictions and the process of getting the waiver. The process of revoking existing ESTA approvals and the procedure used in the revocation of such ESTAs is equally properly addressed.
In summary, you should make out time to go over the new Act in detail if you suspect you will no longer be able to enter the US through your ESTA visa based on your past travel history. The rules are designed to make the US safer, and not to impede your travel. If you follow the correct procedures you should have no trouble entering the US, and will likely have a long VISA to save you trouble in the future.
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