Dubai: American embassy officials in the UAE are reminding travellers to the United States using the Visa Waiver Programme that they must have an electronic passport with an embedded microchip or they will be denied entry.
Since the e-passport travel rule came into force on April 1, the US Embassy in UAE has not faced a high number of complaints but is still advising travellers who can travel to the US without a visa to ensure they have the electronic passport.
Under the Visa Waiver Programme, 38 countries are permitted to travel to America without obtaining a traditional visa at an embassy beforehand.
United States Embassy Abu Dhabi Consul General Randy Townsend told Gulf News that a little more than a month after the change, “it seems the vast majority of travellers were well informed and have not had an issue with the electronic passport requirement”.
Townsend said that travellers may believe they can fly to the US because they have a validated electronic systems travel authorisation (ETSA) but that does not give them clearance for entry.
“The US Embassy strongly recommends that all travellers check to ensure their passports are valid electronic passports before they make arrangements to travel to the United States on the Visa Waiver Programme,” he said.
For those who don’t have a new e-passport and need to travel to the US, standard visa rules apply and the person must visit the embassy.
“Any traveller who does not have a valid electronic passport is still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa issued by a US embassy or consulate. Such travellers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a US embassy or consulate before travelling to the United States,” Townsend said.
Travellers can check to see if their passport is valid for travel by logging on to: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html.