ESTA for USA

Travel Forums North America ESTA for USA

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1. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1279 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

OK - the ESTA is available to citizens of around 35 countries, including the UK and New Zealand. A visa is unlikely to be granted to citizens of Somalia, Syria and Venezuela amongst four or five others.

Is the ESTA unavailable to UK/NZ citizens if they have visited these 'banned' countries?

We were in Venezuela in 2016, in Somalia (Somaliland) in January 2019 and we should be in Syria in July 2019. We are hoping to visit the Caribbean Islands in December and expect to have to transit through Miami - are we likely to be refused an ESTA and need to apply for a full visa?

(Ironically, we were in both Somaliland and Venezuela with American citizens and expect to see US citizens in Syria too.)

It's not drastic yet since the processing of a US visa in Auckland takes up to 90 days but it'd be good to have an idea in advance - and it'd be good to have an idea if we'd get visas too. Thanks! :):)

2. Posted by AndyF (Moderator 1521 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

For UK passport holders the FCO site says one of the requirements is "haven’t travelled to Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011" but goes on to say "Certain exemptions apply on a case-by-case basis to those who have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen since March 2011. "

Likely the same for Kiwis you'd think.

3. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1279 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Yep - I think Sudan might have been removed from the list recently and Venezuela and North Korea added to appear not 'anti-muslim'. Tons of Americans have been through these countries and they're still allowed back into the US. But does that mean we have no hope of transitting through Miami?

4. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 692 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Sudan is still on the list with no mention of Venuzuela or N Korea. Under 'What are the new eligibility requirements?' here:

https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program/visa-waiver-program-improvement-and-terrorist-travel-prevention-act-faq

Three others, including Somalia, were added in 2016:

> On February 18, 2016, DHS announced that it is continuing its implementation of the Act with the addition of Libya, Somalia, and Yemen as three countries of concern, limiting VWP travel for certain individuals who have traveled to these countries. < (Same link).

But does that mean we have no hope of transitting through Miami?

I think the only way to find that out is to apply for a visa.

>The restrictions do not bar travel to the United States, but they do require a traveler covered by the restrictions in the law to obtain a visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. < (Same link).

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2019, at 03:59 by leics2 ]

5. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1279 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

This site here suggests Venezuela has been added (Jan 2017) and Sudan removed. How reliable that is I don't know (Trump's fake news?). But I guessed that the only way to know was to apply. I've e-mailed the US consulate in Auckland but still awaiting a reply.:(

6. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 692 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

I tend to think that official sites are likely to be accurate.

I suspect a great deal (all?) will depend on the reason/s why someone visited x 'banned' country/countries and the information he/she provides at the interview. I doubt the consulate, if it replies, will give anything other than a generalised response referring to the CBP info.

Good luck! :-)

[ Edit: Edited on 25-Apr-2019, at 04:21 by leics2 ]

7. Posted by BeateR (Budding Member 7 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Here is the website with all information:
https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/tourism-visit/visa-waiver-program.html

8. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1279 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Quoting leics2

I tend to think that official sites are likely to be accurate.

I suspect a great deal (all?) will depend on the reason/s why someone visited x 'banned' country/countries and the information he/she provides at the interview. I doubt the consulate, if it replies, will give anything other than a generalised response referring to the CBP info.

Good luck! :-)

Yep - agreed on all counts. I'll let you know what happens - you're the guru here! :):)

9. Posted by leics2 (Travel Guru 692 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Thank you, but I'm really not! :-)

Will def be interested to know how things go on.

10. Posted by Borisborough (Moderator 1279 posts) 3w Star this if you like it!

So, after e-mailing the US Consulate in Auckland, I received a standard reply telling me I needed to apply for the ESTA first. I did - and I've been rejected because of Sudan and Somalia (this obvious rejection has cost USD4). The option now is to either apply for a tourist visa for the US (at USD160) or try to get to the Caribbean without transitting through the US. The appointment wait time in Auckland is only six calendar days or something like that and the decision to issue a visa can be immediately after the interview. Is by-passing the US better than forking out USD160?? We'll look at flight options and make a decision in the next couple of months. :):)

Incidentally, Sudan was still on the list but Venezuela wasn't.