Because there are many variables depending on the goals of the visa applicant and the eligibility requirements, it is important to seek the counsel of an immigration attorney before making a decision. A mistake can have long term implications.
The Visa Waiver Program was changed on December 18, 2015 with the 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 2029) in three ways:
1) Individuals present in Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan on or after March 1, 2011, or other countries designated by the Department of Homeland Security) are ineligible for the Visa Waiver Program. Certain exemptions and waivers may be granted by the Department.
2) Nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan are excluded from the VWP.
3) New conditions for VWP countries, such as passport security requirements, information sharing and protocols for screening are imposed.
Iran, in particular, has reacted to the changes since many tourist and business travelers from around the world would be affected. Some have criticized H.R. 2029 saying that it conflicts with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which reads, “The EU and its Member States and the United States, consistent with their respective laws, will refrain from any policy specifically intended to directly and adversely affect the normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.”
However, Secretary of State John Kerry has given assurances to Iran that the United States is committed to the sanctions lifting provided for under the JCPOA.