Restrictions on the use of ESTA Affecting Some French Nationals

  • The Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act) put new restrictions on the use of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) for certain categories of travelers.
  • Under the 2015 Act, Visa Waiver Program nationals — including French nationals — who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and/or Yemen since March 1, 2011 AND anyone who is a dual national of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria are ineligible to use ESTA. These restrictions apply to previous ESTA approvals and all current and future ESTA applications. VWP nationals (including French nationals) who have previously received ESTA approvals, but who meet one of these criteria, are no longer eligible to use ESTA. The new law does not prohibit individuals in these categories from traveling to the United States, but a traveler not eligible for ESTA cannot be admitted into the country without a valid U.S. visa in his or her passport.
  • The U.S. Embassy Paris strongly recommends that affected individuals apply for a B1/B2 non-immigrant visa as far in advance of their intended travel as possible to avoid any disruption to their travel plans. The B1/B2 visa can be used for the same purposes as ESTA (e.g., tourism, business, conferences, etc.). Detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to apply for a non-immigrant visa are available in French and in English on the Embassy’s website.
  • Expedited appointments are available for travelers affected by these new requirements and the Embassy is prepared to assist those travelers.