News report | | 23/03/2018 | ±3 minutes reading time

The travel ban of the American president Donald Trump appears to be working. In the first few weeks following Trumpʼs most recent ban, only 100 exemptions were granted. In total, thousands of US visa applications came in from eight countries that are on Trumpʼs blacklist, according to Reuters.

White House (Washington D.C.)White House (Washington D.C.)

Countries on the blacklist

On 8 December, Trump announced a blacklist. This list holds countries for which a travel ban applies. This includes Chad, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Venezuela. From those countries, 8400 people made a visa application for the United States.

Of those 8400 people, only 128 applications actually got a visa. They were able to enter the country due to various exceptions, for instance because they already lived in the USA before the law came into effect, or because they belong to a special group.

Visa exemption as part of travel ban

The travel ban of Trump has a special feature that in certain cases, a visa exemption can be given, if these cases do not qualify for the regular exemptions. These can be, for example, urgent medical cases, or arranging an adoption. A visa exemption can also be given to people that had a prior visa, and are now returning to the United States for work or to study.

Senatorial inquiry on visa exemptions

Senators Chris van Hollen and Jeff Flake sent a letter to Homeland Security, asking what exactly the case was with the rejections. In the letter they reveal that they have received a large number of mentions of uniform rejections of visa exemptions.

According to Van Hollen, the Trump government claims that the system regarding visa exemptions in the USA can be used by anyone who does not pose a threat to the country. The senator calls it a farce, which is intended to obfuscate Trumpʼs true intentions.

Van Hollen says that various courts that have looked at the travel ban believe it to be a muslim ban, which goes against the constitution and immigration laws of America. Six of the eight countries on the blacklist are muslim countries. According to the Trump government, these countries have a high risk of terrorism. The travel ban is meant to protect the people of the United States against this threat.

Applying for a visa is complicated for most people from the countries on the blacklist. Often, these countries are on the list because they did not adhere to the standards of the US regarding sharing information and identity management.

Applying for a regular visa

The United Kingdom is not on Trumpʼs blacklist. This makes it possible for British nationals to apply for a US visa as normal. Travellers can also apply for an ESTA visa. This is a mandatory travel authorisation to travel to the USA without a visa (beware of flying with your laptop). An ESTA application takes about five minutes and costs £49.95 per person. Of course, it is possible to submit multiple applications at once.

Without an ESTA, travellers will be denied entry. This travel authorisation is mandatory. Even if the US is only a stop on the way to the another destination, an ESTA is still required. Handy to know: this authorisation is not a document but a digital authorisation. It is valid for a maximum of two years.

Please note: this news article about the ESTA for the USA is more than one year old. It might contain outdated information and advice, and no rights can therefore be derived from this article. Are you going on a trip soon and do you wish to do know what rules currently apply? Read all about the up-to-date information about the ESTA for the USA. is a commercial and professional visa agency, and supports travellers in obtaining, among others, the ESTA USA. acts as an intermediary and is in no way part of any government. You can also apply for an ESTA directly with the immigration service (21 USD per ESTA, via However, not with our level of support. If you submit your application via, our support centre is available to you 24/7. In addition, we manually check your application and all the documents you provide before submitting it to the immigration authorities on your behalf. If we suspect any errors or omissions while doing so, we will personally contact you to ensure that your application can still be processed quickly and correctly. To use our services, you pay us 21 USD in consular fees, which we pay to the immigration service on your behalf, as well as £33.50 in service fees as compensation for our services, including VAT. Our services have saved many travellers from major problems during their trip. Should an application be rejected despite our support and verification, we will refund the full purchase price (unless an application for a previous ESTA USA was rejected for the same traveller). Read more about our services here.