Tightest Entry Requirements: Some might compare the US to Alcatraz – impossible to infiltrate. It definitely was when Trump was in power as he implemented some of the most controversial and terrible entry restrictions the country has ever seen. Now, Biden has relaxed the entry restrictions somewhat, but it still remains one of the countries with the tightest borders, second to Australia, a country renowned for having strict borders.
Do you think the US has a right to have strict entry requirements, and do you know what they are? Below, we’ll look at why the US has a reputation for being difficult to enter and how it might change in the future.
US Entry Requirements
The US has numerous entry requirements, such as the ESTA, which is actually a requirement for anyone who falls into the following categories:
- A citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country
- Anybody who doesn’t have a visitor’s visa
- Anyone traveling to the US for less than 90 days
- Anyone traveling to the US for business or pleasure
The ESTA form is relatively easy to complete. Some people opt to complete it online before traveling, but most airlines dish out a visa application on the plane. There are further considerations to make when deciding if you need an ESTA or a full US visa. For example, if you’ve traveled to Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Iran, Iraq, or Yemen – you’ll need a US visa rather than an ESTA. Applying for ESTA for UK Citizens, for instance, is a much faster than doing the same for a US visa, with completion taking only a few hours. Click here to learn about the differences between the two visas.
Similarly, individuals with a criminal record, whether it resulted in a criminal conviction or not, must apply for a US visa. Attempting to enter on an ESTA with a criminal record will result in rejected entry at the border.
Why It’s So Strict
The US tightened borders after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. The attack sent the US into a frenzy of panic and almost instantly introduced new travel restrictions that aimed to keep a closer eye on who was entering the country. For example, the requirement of a full visa if someone had recently traveled to one of the countries mentioned above came into effect in 2011.
Considering that the entry requirements have been in effect for over ten years, they’re now the norm, and they’re technically not that hard to meet. Many countries, like Australia, have similar requirements in place. Europe will soon implement similar visa requirements, making it the new norm worldwide.
Will It Change In The Future?
The entry requirements for the US are unlikely to change in the future. Visa requirements will always be mandatory as it’s America’s way of safely controlling its borders and monitoring who’s moving in and out of the country. What’s likely to change, however, are the COVID entry requirements. Biden and his party are under pressure by the travel and tourism industry to relax travel restrictions that are some of the strictest in the world.
Always check the current entry requirements before booking a vacation to the US. Thousands of people are denied entry at the borders because they fail to meet the visa or COVID requirements. Following all the requirements will make entry into the US smooth sailing.