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Change in U.S. law affects Austrians, French, and Italians who wish to visit the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program

Through the so-called "Visa Waiver Program", most European citizens have the benefit of being able to travel to the U.S. without obtaining a visa, if they are only coming for business or tourist purposes and their stay is not longer than 3 months. 

This is about to change for some Austrians, Frenchmen, and Italians.

The Austrian, the French, and the Italian government are the only three European visa waiver countries which did not implement the required changes to keep their citizens eligible for the visa waiver program, if their citizens apply for a passport after October 26, 2005.

This does not affect citizens of these countries who currently hold a machine-readable passport.  Hence passports issued before October 26, 2005 will most likely enable their holders to come to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program.  Only persons who need to get their passport renewed soon are potentially concerned.

Until this is changed, citizens of the above mentioned countries should therefore try to apply for a new passport or a revalidation of their current one if it is due to expire soon BEFORE October 26, 2005, when the new law comes into effect.

The affected citizens should try to avoid obtaining a passport after October 26, 2005 and before their government changes the requirements for their passports to comply with the U.S. requirements.

Austria is likely to enact such legislation in summer of 2006.  Italy and France are currently in the process of changing their laws, which will possibly be effective at the beginning of 2006.  

Persons who are not eligible for the visa waiver program have to apply with the U.S. Consulate in their country for a business or tourist visitor visa, which requires many documents and is time intensive.

If you have any questions concerning this notice, please contact an Immigration Attorney.



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