The US Department of State (DOS) has begun implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. The Act was officially signed into law on December 18, 2015 and establishes new criteria for travelers eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). With the new Act, certain travelers are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the US under the VWP. Included in the restrictions are 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 will also no longer be eligible to travel under the VWP.
The VWP allows citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. visa free for visits of less than 90 days for tourism and business purposes. All individuals seeking to travel via the VWP are required to enroll in the Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) to undergo counterterrorism screening and must receive ESTA approval prior to their travel to the U.S. As of January 21st of 2016, travelers with valid ESTA approval and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries named above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked. Current ESTA holders should always check their ESTA status prior to travel.
Any traveler no longer eligible for the VWP is still eligible to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, or travel to the U.S. with a currently valid nonimmigrant visa. The DOS has confirmed that an updated ESTA application with additional questions is scheduled to be released in late February to address exceptions for diplomatic and military related travel provided for in the Act.