Temporary immigration restrictions

President Trump has signed a new Executive Order which takes effect on 16 March 2017. This 90-day temporary travel ban will affect nationals of the following countries applying for a visa to travel to the United States: Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.

The suspension of entry to the US shall apply only to foreign nationals of the designated countries who:

  • are outside the United States on 16 March 2017;
  • did not have a valid visa at 5:00 p.m., eastern standard time on January 27, 2017; and
  • do not have a valid visa on the effective date of this order

Please check the US Embassy and the UK Foreign Office website for regular updates.

Dual nationals with British Passports

There has been confirmation from the US government that British nationals who hold dual nationality with one of the 6 countries mentioned above and who are travelling on a British passport to the USA from one of those countries, should expect additional security checks on arrival in the USA.

You’ll need prior authorisation to enter the United States using a British passport, either through a visa, a Permanent Resident Card, or the Visa Waiver Programme. Restrictions apply depending on the type of passport you hold, your nationality, criminal history, and countries you may have recently visited. It’s your responsibility to know and understand the entry rules before you travel. See Entry Requirements.

See the FCO website for further updates.

Visa Waiver Program

Travellers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • 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) reason purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at US embassies or consulates. For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis.

ESTAs

From January 21, 2017, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, categories of travellers who may be eligible for a waiver include:

  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015); and
  • Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.

Whether ESTA applicants will receive a waiver will be determined on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the terms of the law. In addition, we will continue to explore whether and how the waivers can be used for dual nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP’s website at esta.cbp.dhs.gov

If you’re unsure whether you’re affected by these new measures, you should contact the nearest US Embassy or Consulate for advice.

Last updated 7 March 2017