Minister Dermot Ahern reminds Irish Citizens of new U.S. Immigration Requirements
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Dermot Ahern T.D., today reminded Irish passport holders intending to visit the United States that, with effect from 26 June 2005, they must present a machine readable passport to avail of the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme. Otherwise they must obtain a visa, in advance, from their nearest U.S. Diplomatic or Consular Mission.
Commenting on the new arrangements, the Minister said:
“This U.S. requirement was first introduced last October as part of a series of measures designed to increase security for travellers to the U.S. in the wake of September 11th 2001. Up to now, they have shown a measure of flexibility for travellers with hand-written passports but they have indicated that, with effect from 26 June, all travellers must have a machine readable passport.
Most Irish passports are machine readable but anyone who obtained their passport at an Irish Mission abroad, or from the Duty Officer Service in Ireland, would have a hand-written passport. Anyone travelling or intending to travel to the U.S. should check their passport and make sure that it is machine readable. They will recognise this by the fact that the name, date of birth and other information on the photo page are typed and not hand-written.”
Children, including infants, who are endorsed on a parent's passport must have an individual machine readable passport or else obtain a visa in the parent's passport.
Under the U.S. Visa Waiver Programme, passport holders with machine readable passports from 27 countries, including Ireland, may enter the U.S. without a visa for travel or business purposes for a maximum period of 90 days.
Examples of machine readable and handwritten passports can be seen on the Passport Office website www.passport.ie.
As part of increased security arrangements post 9/11 the U.S. introduced a requirement that persons wishing to enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Programme required a machine readable passport [mrp], otherwise a visa was required. Up to recently, US immigration officers, including at pre-clearance here in Ireland, were permitted on a once-off basis in individual cases, to allow persons holding hand-written passports to enter the U.S. on the understanding that they would apply for a machine readable passport on their return from the U.S. However this derogation is now being withdrawn with effect from 26 June 2005.
The purpose of this press notice is to alert intending travellers of this tightening up of US immigration policy.
16 June 2005