Travelling to Iran and future US travel

Bad Seed

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Hi, This just occurred to me after reading a letter about it in the weekend papers. I am a frequent traveller to Hawaii (my ninth trip coming up later this year.) I know that the ESTA needs me to declare travel to "trouble spots" and I have been to Syria but it was in earlier times so I don't need to declare it. However, I have a bucket list trip coming up in 2023, Covid permitting to the 'Stans and Iran and I'm now worried that this will make all future trips to Hawaii more complicated and expensive. Apparently now, if you've been to one of the nominated places, you need to visit an American embassy for an interview (can be hard to get at short notice) and pay an extra fee. Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?
 

Hvr

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US visa waiting times in Australia: Up to 300 days' wait for visa interviews due to delays​

"The website advised that the waiting time for an interview was between 216 and 300 days," said Adamson.

This article may provide further information:
 

Per_Travels

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I went to Iran a dozen or so times in 2015/16 and have been unable to get an ESTA since then. I got 5 year multi entry visa for the US in 2016 which ran out last year and I applied for and received a new one at the start of this year. The process was fairly straightforward but did include an interview at the US consulate in Perth that took about 5 weeks to arrange (ie after you do the online application you then have to schedule an interview, with the first appointment being 5 weeks away at the time I applied). The interview itself took about 5 minutes ('I see you travel to the US a lot, this is just a formality').
Using the multi entry visa to get into the US has never been an issue or seemed to take any longer than when I used to have an ESTA
 

RooFlyer

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Apparently now, if you've been to one of the nominated places, you need to visit an American embassy for an interview (can be hard to get at short notice) and pay an extra fee. Anyone have any thoughts or experience with this?


Yes. I planned to go to the Stans (and did in 2019: The 5 Stans of the Silk Road ) and saw the rule, so I made an appointment beforehand. Being from Hobart I attended the Melbourne consulate and got a B1/B2 visa (there posts about this somewhere) .

Back then, the 'appointment" was about the time you'd be admitted to the building, along with others given that time. Then there was security (twice), then 3 different desks to go to in turn (paperwork, payment, interview). If you have the paperwork ready, its relatively painless, although tedious. In the 'interview' (asked a few questions by a guy behind a counter) they never asked WHY I was after a B1B2 visa, but I volunteered that I planned to go to Iran, then the USA sometime afterwards. I don't think they cared less. They kept the passport and it was returned to me by Toll a few days later, with the page-size visa stuck in.

When I did enter the USA several times afterwards, it was painless; they didn't care about the Iranian visit (auto kiosks now, although no doubt the visit is on their system somewhere :rolleyes:). The only extra hassle and cost was getting the visa.

Oh, and the Iranians didn't object to the USA visa either :)

Eeek - I just checked and it expires in June 2022. Best make an appointment now :)
Post automatically merged:

I got 5 year multi entry visa for the US in 2016 which ran out last year and I applied for and received a new one at the start of this year. The process was fairly straightforward but did include an interview at the US consulate in Perth that took about 5 weeks to arrange (ie after you do the online application you then have to schedule an interview, with the first appointment being 5 weeks away at the time I applied). The interview itself took about 5 minutes ('I see you travel to the US a lot, this is just a formality').

Was that process similar to getting the first B1 etc visa, or was it easier since it was a 'renewal'?
 

RooFlyer

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I got 5 year multi entry visa for the US in 2016 which ran out last year and I applied for and received a new one at the start of this year. The process was fairly straightforward but did include an interview at the US consulate in Perth that took about 5 weeks to arrange (ie after you do the online application you then have to schedule an interview, with the first appointment being 5 weeks away at the time I applied). The interview itself took about 5 minutes ('I see you travel to the US a lot, this is just a formality').

Was that process similar to getting the first B1 etc visa, or was it easier since it was a 'renewal'?
 

Per_Travels

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Was that process similar to getting the first B1 etc visa, or was it easier since it was a 'renewal'?
The actual interview was a bit easier - second time round there weren't really any questions - first time round I think I was asked why I was going to the US and the purpose of my visits. But I wouldn't exactly call either of them difficult. It's a bit tedious but at least it's only once every five years
 

Seat0B

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I’m considering a visit to Saudi Arabia when we visit Seat Son later this year. Would that be an issue for future US travel?
Does anyone have a web link that lists the “no go” countries? I’ve googled a bit but can’t seem to find nothing and it’s not in the FAQs on the official US Govt ESTA site. TIA.
 

RooFlyer

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I’m considering a visit to Saudi Arabia when we visit Seat Son later this year. Would that be an issue for future US travel?
Does anyone have a web link that lists the “no go” countries? I’ve googled a bit but can’t seem to find nothing and it’s not in the FAQs on the official US Govt ESTA site. TIA.

Well, this was more difficult to find than I expected:


1653099946788.png
 

Seat0B

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Thank you @RooFlyer - I’m glad it wasn’t just me! Looks like Saudi will be OK ESTA wise. Now I just have to decide if it’s ok ethically.

edited: typo
 

Seat0B

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It’s lucky Seat Son is a dual US/Aus citizen as he has been in Syria as a tourist/student in the relevant timeframe, but it won’t be an issue as he has a US passport.
 

Bad Seed

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I was in Syria on holiday in 1999 but apparently it was okay then because the current guys' father Hafez al-Assad, president for 30 years was not the problem...
 

Franky

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I was in Syria on holiday in 1999 but apparently it was okay then because the current guys' father Hafez al-Assad, president for 30 years was not the problem...
I reckon you would get some agruments about that!
 

AussieJasmine

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AFAIK visits to Saudi Arabia won't affect ETIAS. Saudi Arabia is one of the "goodies" in American eyes, so shouldn't be a problem. Tons of American and European migrant workers there ("expats") who are back and forth all the time, so likely no one will even bat an eyelid. Just make sure your paperwork is all in order for the Saudi end though. They are a bureaucratic nightmare and can be pretty nasty if everything isn't in order. They can kick up a fuss if you have any Iranian (and sometimes Israeli) stamps in your passport, so be aware.

For Iran - Note that Iranian immigration will usually stamp a landing card or other form if you request them too, rather than your passport, if you explain you plan on entering somewhere like America in future (though in reality, few countries really care that much). Just make sure you keep hold of the card as otherwise you'll have grief when departing.
 

RooFlyer

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They are a bureaucratic nightmare and can be pretty nasty if everything isn't in order. They can kick up a fuss if you have any Iranian (and sometimes Israeli) stamps in your passport, so be aware.

That's good to know, thanks.

For Iran - Note that Iranian immigration will usually stamp a landing card or other form if you request them too, rather than your passport, if you explain you plan on entering somewhere like America in future (though in reality, few countries really care that much).

I never suffered any problem entering the USA with a full page Iranian visa. Couple of .'in person' entries to the country, but mostly auto kiosks these days where other stamps etc aren't ever shown (but the fact that I've been to Iran is no doubt in their system somewhere :) ).
 

justin23

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To be quite honest, they could easily just add a few Q's to the ESTA process, flag you as someone who has been to one of these places and deny the ESTA and ask questions if they feel necessary. Its the usual nonsense though. I don't go to the USA much, but often enough and somtimes just a transit, that its meant I've not gone to Iran, the only one on the list that i think is safe enough and interesting enough to visit (maybe NK also). They have recently started to wind back restricitions on Cuba as well, which Obama started and Trump changed. Thats just pure US politics though.
 

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