Durbin Statement on Implementation of New Visa Waiver Program Restrictions

WASHINGTON—Assistant Senate Democratic Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) released the following statement regarding today’s implementation of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, which was included in the end of year Omnibus spending bill. Under the new law, travelers from Visa Waiver Program countries who are nationals of or have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 are no longer permitted to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Durbin and Senators Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have introduced legislation to remove the prohibition on dual nationals.


This unfair provision was rushed through the House in the wake of the horrific terror attacks in Paris, and won’t make our country safer,” said Durbin. “The Visa Waiver Program should be reformed, but singling people out because of their national origin is fundamentally at odds with American values and invites discrimination against American citizens who are dual nationals. Our focus should be on people with possible links to terrorism, regardless of their nationality. I commend the Obama Administration for providing guidance on waivers for legitimate travelers to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria, and urge the Administration to issue similar guidance for dual nationals of these countries.”


Durbin, Flake, and Booker introduced the bipartisan Equal Protection in Travel Act to fix the provision in the recently approved omnibus spending bill that prohibits dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Sudan from participating in the Visa Waiver Program, regardless of their travel history.