British Scholar Can't Travel Visa-Free Due to Sudan Fieldwork

October 23, 2018

A British professor is unable to give a plenary speech at a conference in Arizona because of her academic travels to an archaeological site in Sudan in 2014. She will instead be delivering her talk at the Cultural Evolution Society’s conference, which began Monday at Arizona State University, by Skype.

Katie Manning, an archaeologist and senior research associate in the geography department at King’s College London, said her electronic application for authorization to travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program -- which British citizens are eligible for -- was denied, while applications for her partner and children, who were to accompany her, were swiftly approved.

A law passed in 2015 made nationals of visa waiver program countries who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011 ineligible for travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program, with limited exceptions for diplomatic or military travel. Manning, who has traveled to the U.S. extensively in the past and had not realized there had been a change in the law, said she did not have time to apply for a visa, which would be her only recourse after her application submitted through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization was denied.

“I was not aware of the changes that have been made to the ESTA process; what I found very interesting was a surprising number of colleagues were also unaware,” Manning said.

Manning said she would still consider applying for a visa to come to the U.S. in the future, but that she will probably travel less freely than she has in the past given the time and expense involved in a visa application. Before she said she might come to the U.S. for a two-day meeting. “I think now I would be much less inclined to go do that type of traveling simply because it wouldn’t be worth the cost and the effort,” she said.

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