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Posted by MM on June 07, 2003 at 00:33:17:
New special arrangements for Irish Passport holders entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme
Special arrangements are available to facilitate those Irish passport holders who may be affected by a new US requirement for citizens of all countries participating in the Visa Waiver Programme to hold machine readable passports.
Irish citizens visiting the United States for vacations or short business trips do not require a US visa under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). However, a change in US Government regulations, arising out of the Patriot Act 2001, will mean that from 1 October 2003 Irish citizens must have a machine readable passport if they wish to enter the United States without a visa. US citizens and those who hold a US visa, green card or other document allowing them to reside in the US are not affected by this change.
While all passports issued by the Passport Office in Ireland are machine readable, the Embassy of Ireland in Washington and the Consulates General of Ireland in New York, Boston, Chicago and San Francisco currently issue non-machine readable passports. The introduction of a new centralized passport issuing system in late 2004 will mean that all Irish passports issued from that time will be machine readable. Until then, special arrangements have been made for those who expect to enter the US under the VWP to receive a machine-readable Irish passport from the Embassy or Consulates.
The Embassy or Consulate can arrange for machine readable passports to be issued through the Passport Office in Dublin for those who require one. This will involve an unavoidable processing period of at least eight to ten weeks. If an applicant cannot wait this extra period for a machine readable passport, they have the alternative of receiving a non-machine readable passport, exiting the country and applying for a US visa for re-entry.
Non-machine readable Irish passports will continue to be available within the regular processing time for those applicants who are not seeking to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme. It will not be necessary to have a machine readable passport to exit the US or to enter Ireland.
US citizens who hold an Irish passport must continue to leave and enter the US on their US passport. Irish citizens residing in the US are reminded that they will be required to produce evidence (Green Card, Visa, etc) of this entitlement, if re-entering the country on a non-machine readable passport.
Embassy of Ireland
Pat Kelly, Press Officer, Embassy Washington, (202) 349 2043