If You Have Visited The Middle East You Might Be Banned From The U.S. Visa Waiver Program

22/01/2016 3:35 PM AEDT | Updated 28/09/2016 9:57 PM AEST
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Australia, Australasia

Australians who have recently travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan -- and Australians holding dual citizenships to these countries -- will no longer be able to visit the United States on a general tourist visa easily applied for online.

Australia is one of 38 countries impacted by overnight changes made by U.S Homeland Security to the Visa Waiver Program .

Australian citizens who have visited any of these Middle Eastern countries since March 1, 2011 will be impacted by the changes -- with limited exceptions for diplomats and the military -- as they will no longer be able to apply through the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA).

Those affected will need to apply for a non-immigrant visa, which can take up to three months to be processed and requires the applicant to visit a U.S Embassy or consulate.

All Australian citizens visiting the U.S for up to 90 days were previously eligible on the Visa Waiver Program, with the Department of Foreign Affairs posting new information about the changes on the Smartraveller website on Thursday.

“Further updates will be made to Smartraveller over coming weeks in line with any additional advice provided by the United States government. We recommend that all travellers subscribe to this advice to stay informed," a DFAT spokeswoman told The Huffington Post Australia.

The changes follow an act passed by U.S Congress in December in light of the increasing threat of global terrorism and the rise of the Islamic State.

The act, called the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, impacts citizens of 38 countries, including Australia.

On Tuesday a BBC journalist with dual British-Iranian citizenship was prevented from flying to the U.S.

She tweeted her disappointment as her daughter was also unable to travel to the U.S for her cousin’s birthday.

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