Irish visitors to America must declare trips to Muslim states

Irish holidaymakers travelling to the US need to declare whether or not they have visited predominantly Muslim countries in the previous six-year period.

Irish tourists are being asked if they have “travelled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011”.

They are being asked this, as an “eligibility question,” when applying for what is known as an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation).

As it stands, Irish passport holders can enter or transit through America for work or travel purposes for 90 days, under the visa waiver programme.

The US Government programme means you do not need to obtain an official visa but you are required to apply for an ESTA.

An ESTA application can be completed online and processed on the same day.

It is the ninth and final “eligibility question” when applying for an ESTA.

If you answer “yes” to the question you are then asked to state which of the seven countries you have visited, including your arrival and departure date.

Furthermore, applicants must explain the purpose of their visit and are given 13 different options to choose from.

Some of these include working as a journalist, travelling as a tourist and participating in a professional exchange or conference.

The US visa waiver programme, for which an ESTA is required, is open to 38 countries around the world.

These seven Muslim-majority countries are the same countries listed under US President Donald Trump’s executive immigration order.

The news comes as Travel Counsellors Ireland announced that America was the top destination for Irish holiday bookings last month, with Orlando taking the number one spot.

San Francisco, New York and Las Vegas were also in the top 10 most booked destinations.

“It is interesting to see that despite the negativity emanating from the US and the strong dollar, it is still topping our destination list for Irish holidaymakers,” said general manager of Travel Counsellors Ireland, Cathy Burke.

The reason these figures are of significance is because January is traditionally the busiest booking time for family holidays. Furthermore, sales were up 10% for the same period last year.

In relation to the ESTA requirement for a family holiday to the United States, it is not possible to apply for ESTA as a family. Each traveller including babies and infants must have his or her own approved ESTA application before being allowed to board any US-bound flight.

On January 27, President Trump signed an order halting all refugee admissions and temporarily barring people from the seven Muslim-majority countries.

Officially titled, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, it has been dubbed the Muslim-ban and has caused protests across America.

The order also introduces a cap of 50,000 refugees to be accepted in 2017, against a limit of 110,000 set by former President Barack Obama.

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