In January of 2015, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson acknowledged that terrorists, European citizens suspected of terrorism, and Europeans who may be linked to terrorism, may use the current visa waiver program, also known as “ESTA,” to enter the United States. He also stated that The Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to address weaknesses in the program, which could include a revision or revocation of the visa waiver program.
Johnson stated that some of the countries in the program have citizens who have left to fight or train with terrorist groups in the Middle East, Asia, or Africa, then return home intent on violence.
Therefore, if you are interested in coming to the United States to visit, you may want to consider applying for a B-visa in preparation for any future to the United States instead of a visa waiver, especially if you are of North African or Arabic decent or if there are other factors in your background that could be considered “red flags” to the immigration officer at the airport or other point of entry.
Merely obtaining a visa waiver does not guarantee that you will be let into the United States upon Customs inspection at the airport or other points of entry. You could be subject to hours in an interrogation room or potentially sent back to where you came.
A B-visa obtained from the U.S. Consulate provides you with greater tranquility because background checks have already been ran by the Consulate, similar to a pre-clearance.
A B-visa allows a person to stay in the United States for six months out of the year each year until the visa expires. A B-visa may be issued for one, five, or ten years at the discretion of the Consular Officer.