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Visa-Waiver Program Further Restricted for Travelers of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen

In an update to our post from January 25, 2016, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Thursday further restricted visa-free travel to the U.S. for people who have traveled to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen. If visited in the last five years, since March 1, 2011, an otherwise eligible individual is precluded from using the Visa Waiver Program to enter the U.S. for business or tourism. Those travelers to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen must apply for a nonimmigrant visitor’s visa at a U.S. consular post abroad, where they will be subject to the normal vetting process for U.S. visas. The restriction on people who have visited Libya, Somalia, and Yemen come as part of DHS’s implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act that was enacted as part of the year-end spending bill.

Unlike the restrictions on individuals who are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria, these newly published restrictions on travelers to Libya, Somalia, and Yemen do not apply to dual nationals of the three nations. The Secretary of Homeland Security’s authority to grant exemptions in cases of “law enforcement or national security interests” still applies, and such waivers will continue to be granted on a case-by-case basis for individuals who have traveled for humanitarian, journalistic, or legitimate business-related purposes.

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Cassie Ramos