U.S. Further Expands Restrictions on Visa Waiver Program

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By Jared Mondschein

Feb. 22—Travelers who visited Libya, Somalia or Yemen in the past five years are to be barred from a program allowing visa-free entry to the United States, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Feb. 18.

Visa-free entry to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program—which allows visa-free entry to the U.S. for citizens of 38 countries, including much of Europe—was already barred for recent travelers to Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

The initial restrictions on the visa free waiver program were approved Dec. 18, 2015, in an omnibus bill H.R. 2029.

Individuals with passports from the 38 countries are required to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. if they visited one of the seven countries on or after March 1, 2011.

Exceptions to the restrictions are only granted on a case-by-base basis but generally would apply to individuals who undertook travel to any of the seven countries “on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty; on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty; or as a journalist for reporting purposes,” the Department of Homeland Security said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jared Mondschein at jmondschein@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Baer at mbaer@bna.com

For More Information

The announcement by the Department of Homeland Security is available at https://www.dhs.gov/news/2016/02/18/dhs-announces-further-travel-restrictions-visa-waiver-program.

The original legislation on the visa waiver program exemptions is available at https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2029/text#toc-H214BE5B24BB945AC9E65CF8E2831B970.

More information on payroll issues in the United States can be found in the United States country primer.