On December 18, 2015, Congress placed new restrictions on usage of the US Visa Waiver Program (“Terrorist Travel Prevention and Visa Waiver Program Reform”).
New visa waiver restrictions include: Dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan, and individuals who have traveled to one of those countries since March 1, 2011, can no longer use the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Rather, they should obtain a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa at a US consulate abroad well in advance of travel to the US. On February 18, 2016, DHS added Libya, Somalia, and Yemen to the list of “countries of concern.” This precludes individuals who have traveled to Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 1, 2011, from using the VWP. However, VWP travel restrictions do not apply to dual nationals of Libya, Somalia or Yemen at this time.
Beginning on November 12, 2014, the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) will each increase the validity of short-term business and tourist visas (B-1 and B-2 visas in the US) and student and exchange visas (F, M and J visas in the US). more »
On April 29, 2014, the US Embassy Caracas (Venezuela) announced that they have resumed limited issuance of B-2 tourist visas for first-time B-2 applicants. This announcement came a month after US consular officials abruptly suspended issuance of B-2 tourist visas. The US Embassy Caracas reports that they remain understaffed, but that the arrival of additional consular officials along with the expectation of more reinforcements for the Embassy has allowed them to open a limited number of appointments for B-2 tourist visas. To make an application for US B-2 tourist visas, see the US Embassy Caracas Nonimmigrant Visa web page. more »
The US Embassy Caracas (Venezuela) issued a notice March 24, 2014, stating that as a result of the expulsion of several US consular officials along with Venezuelan government delays in issuing visas for incoming officers, the US Embassy Caracas does not have sufficient consular staff at present to continue to schedule appointments for first-time tourist (B-1 and B-2) visa applicants. Until further notice, the US Embassy Caracas can offer such appointments only in emergency situations. more »
For nationals of Kazakhstan US visa validity periods have increased for several nonimmigrant visa categories. As of August 1, 2013, qualified applicants applying for diplomatic, official, tourist, business, student/exchange, and media visas will be issued US visas with a maximum validity of 5 years on a reciprocal basis with the Government of Kazakhstan. more »
The US Embassy New Delhi has announced that under a new initiative, in select circumstances, qualified foreign visitors who have been interviewed and thoroughly screened in conjunction with a prior US visa application may be eligible to renew their US visas without undergoing another interview. more »
On January 19, 2012, the White House unveiled new initiatives to promote the US as a premier destination for international travelers by improving the US visa and travel processes. These advances have allowed US DOS to issue more than 7.5 million visas in the last fiscal year, a 17% year-on-year increase. The US Visa Pilot Program, which seeks to improve US visa processing, begins January 19, 2012, and ends two years after that on January 19, 2014. more »
On August 17, 2011, USCIS issued a Policy Memorandum regarding B-2 Visa Status changes and extensions for cohabitating partners, including same-sex partners and same-sex spouses, and other nonimmigrant household members, along with related revisions to the Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM). more »
As of March 18, 2011, US Embassy Tokyo advises that they are only processing emergency visa cases due to the recent events in Japan. Some nonimmigrant visa applicants with approaching deadlines, such as students, and individuals already scheduled for nonimmigrant work visa appointments may keep their interview appointments. See below for more detail. more »
On September 08, 2010, a new ESTA application fee of $14 will take effect for travelers to the US coming from Visa Waiver countries. ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) applications and approvals are required for travelers from Visa Waiver countries who are not required to have a US visa. more »