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12 April 2024

Visit to US? Tough call for these passport holders

By Majorie van Leijen

A law has been proposed to restrict certain nationalities from entering the US without prior arrangement of a visit visa.

Syrians, Iranians, Iraqis and Sudanese would be subjected to the restrictions, proposed under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.

The US runs the Visa Waiver Program, where individuals can travel to the US without prior arrangement of a visit visa.

Although these benefits do not come to any national, more nationalities would be added to the list of those subjected to restrictions.

The suggestion for these restrictions was made in response to the recent massacre in California and other global events, such as the Paris shootings.

Unrestricted visa-free travel could form a threat to home security with the potential of terrorist cells operating on US soil, was the argument supporting the proposal.

The restrictions would have a significant effect on the opportunity to travel hassle free for many individuals, as it does not only concern original passport holders, but any individual holding a passport of the countries mentioned.

A person holding dual citizenship among which one of the subjected nationalities would have to comply with the new rules and thus apply for a visa to the US.

Moreover, travelers who visited one of the countries mentioned before visiting the US would also be required to apply for a visit visa to the US separately.

In addition to the proposed restrictions for the visit visa to the US certain security checks for various popular work related visa categories including the L-1 visa, H-1B visa and the E-1 and E-2 visa have been proposed as well.

The Act has been passed by the House of Congress overwhelmingly and is waiting for the approval of the Senate and the President.

The Visa Waiver Program has been in place since 2008.

It allows visitors to travel to the US by applying through ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) , after which a 90-day stay is permitted.