The 45th president of the Unites States Donald Trump, famously known for TV shows like The Apprentice, has taken a radical decision that impacts those who wish to travel to the United States and have citizenship of one of the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program.
During Barack Obama’s administration, as of March 2011 a question was included in the ESTA form to verify whether people had been in Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia and/or Yemen. President Trump is now using this question to deny entry to those individuals that have been in any of the seven countries mentioned.
Trump was vocal about his wishes to strengthen border patrol and establish stricter measures for those who wish to visit American soil. However, information regarding this particular decision was scarce and it already has had a negative impact on people who were not aware of this adjusted immigration clause. This new policy imposed by the current American administration means that your ESTA will be denied if you visited these banned nations.
Data shows that in Europe there’s been an increase in search engines for travel destinations such as Iraq and Sudán. These two countries have awakened particular interest among travellers and it’s likely that few people are aware of the new immigration policy and its implications.
Currently, the Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of VWP member countries to travel to the USA via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or commonly referred to as ESTA. This system was set in place to simplify the process and works by pre-approving applicants. The ESTA online application is fairly accessible and people need a valid biometric passport and a debit or credit card to pay for the administration fees.
If you are thinking about visiting the United States but you have been to any or more of the seven countries you will have to apply for both, the ESTA and a conventional tourist visa. It’s important to point out that even if you have not visited the seven countries listed above you ESTA could be denied for other reasons, for instance you might have given an untruthful answer to one of the VWP questions. Pay close attention when you fill in the application.