What is HR 158? Are there restrictions for some dual nationals for entering the U.S. in the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens from a number of countries to enter the United States for periods of three months without having to first obtain a tourist visa.


Please click here for more information on the VWP and the list of participating countries.


In December 2015, a bill called HR 158 was passed which put restrictions on the use of the VWP for individuals who have dual nationality with or have travelled to certain countries. At this time, the countries included are Iraq, Syria, Iran, and Sudan. Anyone who is a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country who also has dual nationality or has travelled to these countries since March 1, 2011 are no longer eligible to utilize the VWP and must apply for a tourist visa at a U.S. Consulate in order to be admitted to the United States.

HR 158 has been heavily criticized by many for being extremely overbroad; it nonetheless remains law at this time. It is important to take this bill into consideration before travelling to the U.S. if you have any connection to one of the above listed countries. For example, if you have an Iranian father, you are automatically a dual citizen of Iran regardless of your country of birth. You will need to apply for a tourist visa to enter the U.S. even if you hold a passport from a VWP country.


Please click here for more information about HR 158.


Does HR 158 apply to Canadians?

No. Canadians are permitted to enter the U.S. without a visa through a different agreement than the VWP. Therefore, HR 158 does not apply to Canadian citizens and Canadians do not need to apply for a tourist visa prior to entering the U.S. if they have dual nationality or travelled to the countries currently under the purview of HR 158.


For more practical information and legal advice, contact Scott Legal, P.C. Call 212-223-2964 or email info@legalservicesincorporated.com for a consultation.

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Amir Rasoulpour, Esq. is an Associate Attorney at Scott Legal, P.C. He can be reached at 212-223-2964 or by email at info@legalservicesincorporated.com. 


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