Visa waivers no longer are available to certain European and Asian travelers who formerly could visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. The restrictions apply to travelers from 38 countries with Visa Waiver Program agreements with the United States, if the travelers are:
- Nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
The U.S. State Department has posted detailed information about the restrictions on its website.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection recommends travelers check their visa status at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ before traveling to the United States.
As reported by CNN, the U.S. began implementing the visa restrictions on Jan. 21. The change was mandated by legislation passed by Congress after terrorist attacks in Paris last November.
The new law also requires that by April 1, 2016, all VWP travelers use an electronic passport for travel to the U.S. Many VWP travelers already have e-passports because integrated computer chips have been phased in since 2006. You can identify an e-passport by the symbol on the front cover of a passport booklet (see image).