American State Department changes of regulation

usa

As of January 2016, the American State Department changed their regulation in relation to Iran. Currently any individual who has visited Iran in the last three years, can no longer qualify for the USA ’visa waiver’ program.

Such individuals will now have to apply for visa, at their local American  Embassy. They will usually be interviewed by the resident U.S. immigration officer,  so they can decide if the applicant is acceptable, so they can obtain  a visa for the USA. If a decision is made to grant  the visa, it is likely to be a ten  year multiple entry visa.

2016 Testimonial | B.M & M.M

I don’t normally do much with feedback after trips (I take so many) but I do want to say that Mimi and I really did enjoy our brief visit to Iran at the end of March. The people there were so friendly … We got invited to dinner, shared food and picnics and had many photos taken with the locals. Wonderful people !

On my return, In the interests of my relations with the USA, I confessed to my “crime” of visiting Iran and I had my ESTA revoked in order to embark on the full US non-immigrant visa trail. It took exactly five weeks from the ESTA being revoked to getting my full non-immigrant visa. A lot of hoops to jump through with form filling, photographs and the like plus, of course visa fees !

The big delay was getting the necessary appointment for a face to face interview at the US Embassy in London (they do also offer interviews in Belfast). The earliest date was just over 4 weeks from the date that all the forms were originally submitted.

I tried to expedite the interview but all this did was bring it one day earlier ! I had to take a whole host of supporting documents to the interview … A lot were standard things like proof I was going to return the UK, bank statements to show that I could support myself while I was there, your tour itinerary to show why I had been to Iran, etc., etc.

At the interview they took a set of fingerprints and simply asked the purpose of my visit to Iran to which I replied “tourism”. They did not ask where I had been or any other details and they did not ask to see the tour itinerary or any of the other documents I had taken along. My passport was returned to me five days later and I now have a new 10-year visa for the USA. On the positive side, it will save me having to renew the ESTA every two years !

It was a pain having to do all the form filling and having to visit the US Embassy but I do want to stress that it was all fairly straightforward and potential visitors to Iran from the UK and EU areas should not be put off by it all. It took time because of the interview delay but otherwise it was probably no worse than getting the Iranian visa !

If you have interested UK or EU travellers going to Iran, you should tell them to allow 6-8 weeks between returning from Iran to arranging any travel to the USA to allow a comfortable margin to get a full US visa

In a nutshell, the experience of visiting Iran was well worth the inconvenience of applying for the full US Visa !

Best regards

B.M & M.M