Since 21 January 2016, new measures have been imposed by the U. S. government for nationals of countries benefiting from the visa or ESTA waiver. For security reasons, the United States has put in place drastic checks on entry to the territory. To travel to the USA, you will need to obtain authorization from US immigration via a VISA or ESTA.
These measures, approved by the U. S. Congress in December 2015, were taken to improve the security of U. S. territory in the face of external terrorist threats. As of April 1, 2016, it is compulsory for citizens of States benefiting from the Visa Waiver Program to have a biometric or electronic passport if they wish to stay in the United States.
If the national does not have such a passport, he or she must apply for a VISA from the U. S. Embassy. Please note that ESTA is by no means a VISA.
Even if you are a national of one of these countries exempted from VISA and you have a biometric or electronic passport, you must apply for a VISA if you have travelled to Syria, Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia or Sudan since 2011.
This provision also applies to persons with ties to countries that the U. S. Department of Homeland Security considers to be the cradle of terrorism.
However, this reform provides for an exception for full-time civil servants of the State administrations who are on official missions, whether civilian or military. They will be able to use ESTA to travel to the United States. It should also be noted that the United States grants an exception to travellers who have stayed in these countries considered to be a terrorist paradise.
They can still benefit from a VISA waiver. This is the case, for example, of staff working for regional or international organisations that have carried out a mission to the countries concerned. The same is true for humanitarian travellers and journalists. For legitimate cases, this exception also applies to Iraq and Iran if the stay took place after 14 July 2015.
Since the 11 September 2001 attack, the US administration has not been bantering on the security issue, and that is the main reason for applying these rather restrictive measures. Of course, these new rules do not prohibit under any circumstances stays in the United States. On the other hand, they make the administrative procedures necessary for a trip to America a little more complex.
If you are covered by this measure, it is advisable to contact the U. S. Embassy for more details before purchasing an airline ticket for a trip to the United States.