Democratic Senators Pen Letter Asking Administration to Protect Dual Nationals from Discriminatory Visa Rules


February 12, 2016, Washington D.C. – Democratic members of the U.S. Senate sent a letter today urging the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue waivers to the discriminatory dual nationality provisions contained in the Visa Waiver Program reforms passed into law late last year. The letter was authored by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and has been signed by Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Al Franken (D-MN), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Patty Murray (D-WA),  Ed Markey (D-MA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Sherrod Brown (D-OH). 

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 participating countries to travel to the U.S., Europe, Japan, and South Korea without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. 

Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, individuals who are dual nationals from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria or anyone who has travelled to those countries in the past five years from visa-free travel to the United States.

Europeans of Iranian origin have already been denied visa–free travel to the United States. Because the Visa Waiver Program is based on reciprocity, European and other participating countries may soon place reciprocal restrictions on American citizens. This could jeopardize your right as an American citizen to travel visa-free solely based on your Iranian origin and irrespective of your travel history. 

Bipartisan legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would strip the discriminatory dual nationality provisions contained in the Visa Waiver Program reforms passed into law late last year. While the legislation (including S.2449 & H.Res 438) is pending, it is important for the Administration to implement waivers so that duals nationals will not be impacted solely based on their national origin and inviting discrimination against American citizens. 

Senator Durbin’s letter requests that the DHS establish “a process for dual nationals to apply case-by-case waivers and to designate categories of dual nationals who could be eligible for such waivers.”

The letter notes that while Senators “support reforming the VWP, singling people out based on their national origin does not make us safer, is inconsistent with American values, and invites discrimination against American citizens who are dual nationals.”  

Click here to read the full text of Senator Durbin’s letter.

Urge Congress to support the Equal Protection in Travel Act of 2016 and roll back restrictions on visa waivers for dual citizens:

Write a letter to your Members of Congress asking for their support. 

Take Action Today! 

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