Recently, the USA announced that people who traveled to Iran are not longer eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. However, I can't find any information about whether this ban is forever or just for a couple of years.

What happens if I get a new passport without an Iranian visa in it?

  • 1
    Usually unless specified it is until further notice.
    – Karlson
    Aug 17, 2016 at 14:26
  • 2
    @Karlson and "further notice" in this case requires new legislation.
    – phoog
    Aug 17, 2016 at 14:28
  • What about if I get a new passport that does not contain an Iranian visa? Aug 17, 2016 at 14:28
  • I've edited my answer to address that.
    – phoog
    Aug 17, 2016 at 14:31
  • 4
    It lasts until they change the law. Aug 17, 2016 at 18:19

1 Answer 1


The source you cite says that people who've visited the named countries "on or after March 1, 2011" are ineligible. It does not say "in the five years before appplication."

It therefore appears that the ban is permanent, at least until some possible future change in the rules.

The same phrase, "on or after March 1, 2011," appears in the statute, at 8 USC 1187.

If you get a new passport without an Iranian visa in it, it does not change the fact that you were in Iran. If you apply for ESTA and claim not to have been in Iran, you risk being discovered and, likely, banned from the US for deception. Is saving the $160 and the interview for a B-2 visa application worth that risk?

  • 6
    As to falsely claiming not to have been in Iran, in addition to a ban on entering the US, lying on a US immigration form is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, more in some cases. 18 USC 1546. Probably not likely but theoretically possible. There's also the fuzzier issue of "they might think you are a terrorist". Aug 17, 2016 at 14:53
  • 6
    @phoog: Of course. But suppose OP lies on the application, gets it accepted, travels to the US (which would be the whole point of lying), and is caught while there. There is also such a thing as extradition. This is all very theoretical, of course, but my point is that it's potentially much more serious than an immigration ban. Aug 17, 2016 at 15:07
  • 4
    @MSalters: Really, there are no other countries in which it is a crime to falsify a visa application or similar document? Aug 17, 2016 at 21:30
  • 4
    The US aren't going to arrest you in an embassy and drag you overseas for simple visa fraud. You're not worth an international incident regardless of legality. They do sometimes report cases of visa fraud to local law enforcement. I know this happens in India with forged documents; they cooperate with the local police who arrest and prosecute fraudsters. Aug 17, 2016 at 22:37
  • 3
    @pnuts the different wording would have affected the length of time travelers were ineligible for the VWP, which is the question here. In news reports about the changed law the wording was generally "in the previous five years" so it was a little surprising when the law was enacted as it is.
    – phoog
    Aug 18, 2016 at 3:22

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