Congress just made big changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Anyone who has been to Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan on or after March 1, 2011, may not participate in the VWP. The law also applies to other countries on the Department of Homeland Security’s “of concern” list. Basically, anyone who even visits a country on the list is now ineligible for the program.
Recall, the Visa Waiver Program is an exception to the rule that every non-American must first obtain a visa before entering the United States. The VWP allows citizens or nationals of certain countries to stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with only a valid, non-expired passport. Until now, there were no “visitor” territorial limits to eligibility for the program.
Visa Waiver Program Existence Threatened in Wake of Paris Attacks
This restriction on the VWP might be just the tip of the iceberg. The changes come unsurprisingly only four weeks after the November 2015 Paris attacks. Almost all of the terrorists involved in the attacks were of European descent. It is unclear whether European Nationals may soon find themselves next on the list of ineligible participants in the VWP. What is clear is that the VWP as we know it is dwindling. Ineligibility can cause major hiccups in travel plans if you find yourself on the list of ineligible persons.