Changes to USA ESTA Requirements

21 Jan 2016

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In December 2015, legislation passed in the United States that will impact some travellers to the US. There are two specific rule changes that are most important.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute visa advice. Visa advice can be obtained from the US Department of Homeland Security or visa advisory service providers.

1. Travellers with certain dual citizenship

Travellers to the USA who are citizens of countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and also citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, cannot enter the country under the VWP. They must obtain a visitor visa.

This means that an Australian citizen, travelling on an Australian passport who is normally eligible for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) will have to apply at their nearest US consulate for a visitor visa if they are also a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.

Please note the following important information:

The dual citizenship applies even if the customer is not holding a second passport for Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. Any individual, irrespective of where they were born or reside is considered a citizen of Iran, Sudan or Syria if their father was born in that country.

If you are travelling to the USA and hold a citizenship of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, you will need to allow plenty of time to obtain a visitor visa.

2. Travellers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since 01 March 2011

The second ruling that could impact a number of travellers is the restriction on entry to the USA by people (of any nationality) who have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria since 01 March 2011. These people, even if from a Visa Waiver Program country, will also be required to obtain a visitor visa for the USA.

Please note the following important information:

The only exception to this ruling is if the customer visited one or more of these countries as part of their military service. For all other customers, whether their visit was to see friends/family, as tourists or aid/health workers; a visitor visa will be required.

Please to visit the ESTA website and contact their nearest US consulate for more information:

US Consulate in Melbourne
553 St. Kilda Road
Melbourne, VIC 3004
Click here to visit the website.

US Consulate in Perth
4th Floor, 16 St George’s Terrace
Perth, WA 6000
Click here to visit the website.

US Consulate in Sydney
MLC Centre, Level 10, 19-29 Martin Place
Sydney, NSW 2000
Click here to visit the website.