Today, we read that the US Government has issued new restrictions on visa-free entry into the US for visitors to the DPRK since 2011. The wording of the regulations can be seen at the Customers and Border Protection homepage. Further reporting on this topic can be found at NKnews. This is similar to restrictions the US has imposed on other countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Yemen.
What does this mean to our past and future workshop leaders?
1. Can I still visit the US?
Yes. If you previously qualified for visa-free entry under the ESTA program, you will now have to apply for a visa if you visited the country from 2011.
2. I have an existing visa to visit to the US. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
As far as we know, no. The ruling only affects visa-free waiver entry to the US. However, if you have an approved ESTA, its likely that you will have to apply for a visa for your next visit.
3. Is visiting DPRK illegal under US law?
No. There are no sanctions for just visiting the DPRK or for education programs in non-technical areas. However, you will be required to apply for a visa to visit the US and you might be questioned on your activities there.
4. What if I do not declare that I have visited the DPRK?
Do note that false declaration on US government forms is considered a criminal offence in the US.
5. Are there exemptions for participating in volunteer work with humanitarian and education NGOs like Choson Exchange?
We are enquiring to better understand the implementation of this new visa restrictions and will update if we hear anything.