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US Immigration: New Visa Requirements for European with Dual Nationalities of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria

January 22
4:45 AM 2016

The United States have planned to introduce new visa requirements for European travelers with dual nationalities of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria, or those who have visited any of these countries in the last five years. The purpose of this new immigration regulation is to prevent Europeans who have fought for the Islamic State to enter the U.S.

The nationalities to be affected with this change includes Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria.  These are selected by the countries' connection to the Islamic State or other terrorist groups. It's known that parts of Iraq and Syria have been territories of the Islamic Stated. The U.S also regarded Iran and Sudan as state sponsors of terrorism.

The law was passed by Congress in December in the wake of the Paris attack and San Bernardino terror mass shooting, where 14 people were shot to death and 22 wounded. The San Bernardino attack was carried out by a couple, which is believed to be supporters of Islamic State. One of the attackers, Tashfeen Malik, was granted the K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé visa because her husband was an American-born citizen. She entered the US in 2014 from Pakistan.

According to The New York Times, the review process for a K-1 visa is relatively not as strict as other kinds of visa. The attack led U.S. lawmakers to fear that terrorists could use the weaknesses in the visa program to carry out terror attacks in the U.S. One of the visa program weakness is the inability to accurately track people who overstay. It should also be noted that two of the 9/11 hijackers overstayed their visas.

The new visa requirements plan will be officially introduced on Thursday, and the U.S. News wrote that the law would only affect a minority of Europeans. However, it imposed great concern in European countries that have been enjoying visa-free travel to the U.S. The visa-waiver program is joined by 38 countries around the world, but mostly in Europe, where citizens are allowed to visit the U.S without a visa for 90 days or less.

The Guardian also reported that under reciprocity agreements, the 38 countries that apply the visa-waiver program are also entitled to impose the same travel restrictions on Americans with the same dual nationalities. If Europe did reciprocate, that would make things a lot harder for Europeans with the dual nationalities as stated.

Many expressed their dismay with the U.S government's plan to impose new visa requirements to the groups in question. Some see it as an illogical discrimination. However, President Obama has already signed the bill into law in December and we should expect to see some further changes in the near future.

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