Looming EU-US Standoff: Washington to Exclude ‘Foreign Fighters’ from Visa Waiver Program

Written by | Friday, December 18th, 2015

EU Ambassador to Washington, David O’Sullivan, and other EU leaders have said that the block might possibly get in a stand-off with the United States over a recently passed bill that can ban EU nationals from entering the United States if they are deemed to pose a security risk. The text of the bill, which excludes from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) dual nationals from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, is expected to be voted on in a few days by Congress. Mr. O’Sullivan promptly described the bill as “excessively rigid” while pointing out that the changes would “cause some complications for many good faith travelers”.

The VWP allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. Currently, all but five EU members have joined the program and a review is planned next year. However, the controversial bill is thought to possibly complicate matters. “It is clear that to the extent that this new legislation creates new discriminatory treatment, then that will be part of that review process in April,” Mr O’Sullivan commented.

On top of excluding dual citizens of the four countries, the bill would also exclude anyone from the 38 participating nations of the VWP, who have travelled to those countries mentioned above or to a country that the White House has blacklisted as a country supporting terrorism. The bill demonstrates the concern of US authorities and lawmakers to ensure security of citizens in the aftermath of the Paris attacks, where some of the attackers were EU nationals, who could have otherwise possibly travelled to the US without any restrictions and commit similar attacks.

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