US Implements Visa Waiver Restrictions For Dual Nationals From Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria

Posted: 6:09 pm EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

The ‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016’’ which became Public Law No: 114-113 on December 18, 2015 includes a provision for “terrorist travel prevention and visa waiver program” officially called the ‘‘Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015’’.  The new law which affects dual nationals from WVP countries and Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria includes a waiver to be be exercised by the DHS secretary.  The new law also requires the Secretary of Homeland Security to submit to the Committee on Homeland Security, the Committee on Foreign Affairs, the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives, and the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, the Committee on Foreign Relations, the Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Committee on the Judiciary of the Senate a report on each instance in which the Secretary exercised the waiver authority during the previous year.

On January 21, the State Department announced the implementation of the changes to the Visa Waiver Program. Below is the announcement:

The United States today began implementing changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) welcomes more than a million passengers arriving to the United States every day and is committed to facilitating legitimate travel while maintaining the highest standards of security and border protection. Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

These individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular immigration process at our embassies or consulates. For those who need a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel to the United States, U.S. embassies and consulates stand ready to process applications on an expedited basis.

Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

Under the new law, the Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States. Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis. As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include:

  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015); and
  • Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.

Again, whether ESTA applicants will receive a waiver will be determined on a case-by-case basis, consistent with the terms of the law. In addition, we will continue to explore whether and how the waivers can be used for dual nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran and Sudan.

Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid nonimmigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate. Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.

The new law does not ban travel to the United States, or admission into the United States, and the great majority of VWP travelers will not be affected by the legislation.

An updated ESTA application with additional questions is scheduled to be released in late February 2016 to address exceptions for diplomatic- and military-related travel provided for in the Act.

Information on visa applications can be found at travel.state.gov.

Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP’s website at esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

#

A couple days ago ….

#

Advertisements

$400K Life Insurance Supplemental to Eligible Employees Killed in Terrorist Attacks

Posted: 2:27 am EDT
[twitter-follow screen_name=’Diplopundit’ ]

 

We’re working our way through the‘‘Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2016’’ which became Public Law No: 114-113 on December 18, 2015. Under Special Provisions, SEC . 7034 modifies the life insurance supplemental granted to those employees killed in terrorist attacks  (see p.522 of a pdf file or search text here):

(d) DIRECTIVES AND  AUTHORITIES .—

(5) MODIFICATION OF LIFE INSURANCE SUPPLEMENTAL APPLICABLE TO THOSE KILLED IN TERRORIST ATTACKS .—

(A) Section 415(a)(1) of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3975(a)(1)) is amended by striking ‘‘a payment from the United States in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer-provided group life insurance policy coverage (if any), equals $400,000’’ and inserting ‘‘a special payment of $400,000, which shall be in addition to any employer provided life insurance policy coverage’’.

(B) The insurance benefit under section 415 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (22 U.S.C. 3975), as amended by subparagraph (A), shall be applicable to eligible employees who die as a result of injuries sustained while on duty abroad because of an act of terrorism, as defined in section 140(d) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1998 and 1999 (22 U.S.C. 2656f(d)), anytime on or after April 18, 1983.

Terrorism as defined under 22 U.S.C. 2656f(d)), read more here.

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan pay their respects and tribute to the 13 American civilian and 4 U.S. military personnel victims of the embassy bombing.

President Ronald Reagan and First Lady Nancy Reagan pay their respects and tribute to the 13 American civilian and 4 U.S. military personnel victims of the embassy bombing. (Photo via Wikipedia)

Here is 3 FAM 3653.1 last updated on February 26, 2015 (PDF) on the Life Insurance Supplement:

(1)  Foreign Service Employees. Section 415 of the Foreign Service Act of 1980 (“Section 415”) allows for payment of a life insurance supplement to any Foreign Service employee who dies from injuries sustained as a result of terrorism while on duty abroad; and

(2)  Other Employees and Unpaid Interns. The life insurance supplement provided under Section 415 is available to any other employee of the Department of State or other relevant agency (as “employee” is defined under 5 U.S.C. 8101, see 3 FAM 3652.1), including but not limited to an individual employed under a PSA or PSC pursuant to 22 U.S.C. 2669(c) or an individual serving in an uncompensated capacity, who dies from injuries sustained as a result of terrorism while on duty abroad and subject to the authority of the chief of mission pursuant to Section 207

Currently, per 3 FAM 3653.3 Amounts Payable (PDF)
(b) Life Insurance Supplement:

(1)  Eligible employees, as defined in 3 FAM 3653.1(b), other than those described in paragraph (2) below, will receive from the employing agency a life insurance supplement payment under Section 415 in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer-provided or employer-supported life insurance policy coverage (e.g., Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance Program or other policy partially funded by the employing agency), if any, equals $400,000; and

(2)  Employees compensated under LCPs, or individuals hired locally and serving in an uncompensated capacity, will receive from the employing agency a life insurance supplement payment under Section 415 in an amount that, when added to the amount of the employee’s employer- provided or employer-supported life insurance policy coverage, if any, is equivalent to two and a half years’ basic salary at the highest step of the highest grade on the employee’s LCP at the time of death (or, for locally employed individuals serving in an uncompensated capacity, the LCP governing the post in which the individual served), not to exceed the equivalent of $400,000.

The modification does not mention retroactive payments but note that it says injuries sustained while on duty abroad due to an act of terrorism, “anytime on or after April 18, 1983.”   That’s the date of the U.S. Embassy Beirut, Lebanon suicide bombing that killed 63 people including 17 Americans.

#

Related item:

3 FAM 3620 | FEDERAL EMPLOYEES GROUP LIFE INSURANCE (FEGLI) PROGRAM (PDF)