The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of qualifying countries to travel to the United States for business or pleasure without a visa for stays of up to 90 days. The 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029) signed earlier this month includes provisions that significantly change the VWP.

The first provision, which became effective immediately, removed VWP eligibility for citizens of VWP countries who have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan (or other countries designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as supporting terrorism or “of concern”) any time on or after March 1, 2011.  “Nationals” (as defined by each designated country) of Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan are also ineligible for the VWP.  Exempted from this new law are those performing military service or carrying out official duties in a full-time capacity for a VWP country government. 

The second provision places new conditions for VWP participating countries in the areas of passport security requirements, screening protocols, and information sharing.  This law will be implemented in stages within the next year.  

More information about the VWP may be found here.