Critical Changes to US Visa Waiver Program Impact Irish/NI Companies

Bottom line up front: as of last Friday, new changes to the US’s Visa Waiver program restrict the use of that program by persons who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, or the Sudan at any time after March 1, 2011. Additional “countries of concern” may be added to this list. The nationality of the traveler is not an issue, so this change impacts any person traveling on an Irish or UK passport who has been to the listed countries in the relevant timeframe.

People who will be traveling to the United States will no longer be able to use the Visa Waiver program if they have visited one of these countries and will be required to obtain a B1/B2 visa stamp as appropriate.

What to consider now:

  • Plan on applying for a B-1/B-2 visa before any planned travel to the United States if you have been using the visa waiver program and have visited Iraq, Syria, Iran or the Sudan on or after March 1, 2011;
  • Applications should be made well in advance of planned travel – visa workload should be increasing at U.S. consulates;
  • Expect additional security delays between visa applications and visa issuance for applicants who have traveled to any of these countries; and
  • All visa applicants may experience delays in obtaining appointments.

AGG’s Immigration and Global Migration Practice has issued an excellent client alert on this topic, available here. Feel free to contact me or the partners named in the alert- Teri Simmons and Jay Solomon–if you have questions on this change.