Also Syrian? Only Syrian.

Starting recently, the United States government has made a major shake up on the travellers eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Previously people were allowed to travel to the US for 90 days on an ESTA (or what I call a visa which isn't a visa) if they were citizens of one of the visa waiver countries.*

*Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom

sample US visa

Well now your eligibility is revoked and must apply for a US visa if either of these two conditions apply:

  • Nationals of 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.

So, excruciating bad luck if hold nationality with, or have travelled to, any of the four countries singled out as the source of terrorism (funny how Afghanistan, Israel or Palestine isn't there right?). If you previously had an ESTA you may find that that has been withdrawn – you should check the official ESTA website long before you travel.

If you are a Dual US national with any country (including the aforementioned four) then nothing changes for you as by law you must identify yourself to be a US citizen when you arrive anyway.

Whatever you do, don't fall foul of the rules like this British-Iranian BBC journalist . Granted she sounds like she tried her best to get all the information she could.

About Tim

Tim is an engineer and a nerd who analyses every travel deal, travel hack. He has travelled to around 90 countries and also speaks Spanish, Portuguese and Mandarin.

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  1. Seems pretty obvious to me that the USA doesn’t want people to enter who may have been influenced by terrorists and Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria are hotbeds of terrorist activity. “Palestine” cannot be there because it is not a nation State with defined borders. Afghanistan is not quite in the same league as the four banned nations and Israel is the only stable Western style democracy in the Middle East so why should anyone expect it to be on the list? I read “Points to be Made” because I am interested in maximising the benefits from the loyalty programmes I am a member of. I can just about see that drawing your readers attention to the change in rules for USA ESTA can fit into the blog, even though it has no direct relevance to points, but please stay out of politics. Those views have nothing to do with the stated purpose of the blog.

    • @Harry in Jerusalem, why don’t you go away then, or—better—go away and start your own blog where you will be able to limit yourself to whatever interests you?

      It’s of course bloody stupid—all security theatre with little correspondence to actual threats, but again creating such a nuisance for travellers.

      Let’s cover it one-by-one:

      1. Afghanistan—I gather you haven’t been there lately, Henry? I can assure you that however you want to define the “hotbed of terrorist activity”, it would be quite hard to exclude Afghanistan. You seem to forget where the 9/11 hijackers did learn their ropes.

      2. Most of the terrorists in the US or in Europe so far have been in possession of a Western passport, and even if they did visit Syria or Iraq to join or train with Isis, at best they’ll only have a stamp from Ataturk airport in Istanbul. If you hunt for Iraqi stamps in the passports, you’ll mostly create nuisance for poor archeology postdocs and the like.

      3. Palestinian Authority might be not recognised as a nation state, nonetheless it does have a rather well-defined territory, in line with the Oslo Accords, and it does issue travel documents, so I don’t see what would prevent its inclusion? You won’t catch all Israel – PA traffic, but you can at least

      4. I believe that, last year, at least two Arab Israeli citizens were involved in stabbings/shootings in Israel. Do you think that they wouldn’t be capable of travelling out of the country on Israeli passports and committing similar acts elsewhere?

      5. The countries in question make it pretty difficult to relinquish your nationality. For example, you cannot give an Iranian passport up until you turn 25 (and born to an Iranian father, you automatically become Iranian even if you have never entered the country). It’s a bit unkind to single them out, isn’t it?

      Out of curiosity, are you American, Harry?

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