Tensions remain high between the United States and North Korea. On August 2, 2019, North Korea tested ballistic missiles, conducting what is believed to be the fourth test over a two week period. While these missiles were fired into the sea and did no damage, the US Customs and Border Protection Agency took note and opted to make changes to visas and entry requirements. — ESTA has launched a campaign to make travelers aware of these changes to US entry regulations and how they may affect travel in the future for those wishing to enter the United States.
"Anyone who has traveled to North Korea since March 1, 2011 will be affected by the modifications made to the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) Visa Waiver Program. These men and women can no longer enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. They must now apply for an official visa, which may make travel more difficult. Citizens from 38 countries can benefit from the Visa Waiver Program which makes it quick and hassle-free to enter the United States, something travelers appreciate," ETSA UK explains.
Eight countries are on the list of places where travel to the United States is restricted. The other seven are Iran, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Syria. Residents of these countries and any tourists who have traveled to one or more of these countries since March 1, 2011 can no longer benefit from an ESTA application. They must apply for a full visa and pay the accompanying fee.
"Individuals need to prepare for travel early, as full visa applications take longer to be processed and approved than their ETSA counterparts. Furthermore, the application may need to provide additional documentation before receiving approval or an interview may be required. There is no way to know this before the application is submitted, which is why early action needs to be taken," ETSA UK continues.
The North Korea tourism industry will likely be negatively impacted as a result of this stricter visa policy put into place by the United States Customs and Border Protection Agency. In the past, anyone wishing to visit the country could with no penalty. Nevertheless, this is not unexpected, as the United States put a full ban on Americans traveling to the country following the death of Otto Warmbier. Warmbier was an American citizen who was detained in North Korea, held for a period of time and returned to the United States where he passed away shortly thereafter.
"Travel to North Korea may become necessary at some time. For an individual who must visit this country, understand the new requirements for entry into the United States following the visit to North Korea. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization cannot be used in this situation and many others. The more a person knows, the easier it is to plan travel now and in the future," ESTA explains.
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