The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 38 specified countries – most of them in Europe, plus Australia, New Zealand, Chile, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Brunei and Singapore – visa-free travel to the U.S.
Changes to the program included in a spending bill would revoke that privilege both for VWP partner countries’ citizens who have visited Syria, Iraq, Iran or Sudan, and for foreigners from partner countries who also hold dual Iranian, Syrian, Sudanese or Iraqi citizenship.
In an open letter published in The Hill on Monday, ambassadors to the U.S. from E.U. member states expressed concern about the implications of the proposed VWP changes.
They cautioned against “introducing elements of rigidity or automaticity” into the program.
“A blanket restriction on those who have visited Syria or Iraq, for example, would most likely only affect legitimate travel by businesspeople, journalists, humanitarian or medical workers while doing little to detect those who travel by more clandestine means overland,” the diplomats wrote. “European Union citizens who are dual nationals of a proscribed country would also be disproportionately and unfairly affected.”