The U.S. Department of Homeland Security in consultation with the State Department recently enacted the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which imposes travel restrictions to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
These restrictions will prevent travelers from specific countries from entering the United States without first applying for and receiving a visa through the standard immigration process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
The VWP was established in 1986, and currently allows citizens from 38 countries to visit the United States for business or pleasure for up to 90 days without a visa. Conversely, these 38 countries permit U.S. citizens and nationals to visit their countries for business or pleasure for a similar length of time, without a visa.
Under this new program, nationals from VWP countries are required to present a valid passport, and must file an electronic form with biographic, citizenship, travel and other information to be eligible to enter the U.S.
For example, since France is one of the 38 countries included in the VWP, a citizen or national of France with a valid French Passport can enter and stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days without having to apply for a formal visa with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate; France in turn, is required to grant reciprocal status to a visiting U.S. citizen or national with a valid U.S. Passport.
For a complete list of these 38 countries, please go to: https://www.dhs.gov/visa-waiver-program-requirements
These new restrictions apply to: (1) nationals of WVP affiliated countries, who have traveled to, or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria after March 1, 2011; and (2) nationals of the VWP, who are also nationals of / have dual citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria. These travelers will no longer be eligible to enter and stay in the United States without first obtaining a visa through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
This new law does not ban travel to the U.S., nor will it affect the vast majority of people, who have been entering the U.S. under the VWP.
These changes are intended to increase national security and border protection against terrorist threats, while at the same time maintaining the expected ability to travel freely, in the U.S.
Setting the Record Straight
Throughout this presidential election season there has been a flood of very harsh and misleading statements about the failure of this country’s visa process to adequately secure our borders.
This rhetoric is flat out wrong. The U.S. has the most restrictive immigrations laws in the world.
We are a country of immigrants, who built America into the greatest country in the world to live. In order to deal with the problem of illegal immigration we have created an very restrictive immigration process that makes it extremely difficult to obtain a visa.
For people from countries that are not part of the VWP program, like Mexico and other countries in South America, it is very unlikely they will get a visa to come here to visit.
The visa process is so restrictive that a large percentage of people from third world countries can never come here to see their parents, children, or grandchildren. I have seen many instances where families are separated forever.
Before making judgments about the lack of screening in the U.S. visa application process based on the reckless, xenophobic, and uninformed bluster of those playing on people’s fears for political gain, I urge everyone to do their research, because the opposite is true.
Many of the world’s best and brightest engineers, teachers, and scientists, who want to come to the U.S. to make it a better place for all of us, are not allowed entry because of the very restrictive regulations that exist.
This is reason why the number of approved U.S. patents from people, who live in this country has declined so dramatically over the last several years. This will no doubt hurt our country. Because of these restrictive rules that prevent the best and brightest from living here we soon may no longer be at the vanguard of innovation.
To say the least, U.S. Immigration Law is complex and ever changing, so please follow me at DavidAcalinLaw.com, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or connect with me on LinkedIn to stay current. My staff and I have years of experience and a great number of success stories, and I’m certain we can help you and your family.