Is there any list of countries I should not visit if I want to go to the US?
I have heard that if I have been to some countries I might be refused entry to the US. I'm planning to travel (vacation) a bit in the Middle East; that will include Iran, Lebanon, Qatar, Oman and Jordan. At the end of the year I will go to the US.
What I have heard is that even though I might not be refused entry to the US, I might get questioned a lot at the immigration checkpoint. I just want to know how much of this is true. I have a ten-year US visa already as a tourist, and I'm a Thai national.
Some young folks get hassled if they've crossed the US-Mexican land border even once. In that case, it's probably suspicion of drug trade involvement.
Some of the immigration guys at JFK are completely nuts, I've had a much more pleasant experience at LAX. The very first time I went through immigration at JFK from the UK, back in 1988, I was 18, I said "I beg your pardon?" to some unintellible question, at which point the immigration chap stood up, yelled at his friend at the other end of the hall "this young man here thinks I don't do my job properly! Do I do my job properly Chuck?" "Yes you do Bill!" (or whatever names they had). Some of these people are thoroughly unpleasant.
Sometimes you can get a second passport from your government if you travel to 'conflicting' countries.
Considering that Iran does not refuse entry to US tourists and considering the high number of Iranian students in US universities, I doubt that having been in Iran before is enough to be refused to enter the US.
If you want to avoid questioning at the entry airport, you can try to get a second passport from your home country, using this reasoning.
OT: maybe it's just me, but if a country makes so hard to visit it, I'd rather go somewhere else.
An important point is that admission is completely discretionary, so one has no way to know in advance who will end up on the list of 'bad guys' in future. How can you be sure that visiting Iceland is safe? maybe the next Osama will come from there.
The US will issue a second passport if you can show a high volume travel, so it is likely that your country might also do this. It might be worth looking into if you are seriously concerned. Otherwise, you'd probably have trouble with Iran moreso than any of them, but it really depends on where you fly into. If you are flying into NYC or DC, you might get more trouble than Atlanta, which sees more international traffic.
There is no list published by the US government as mentioned in other answers, but I know people who were refused US visas in different US embassies/consulates because they have visited one or more of these countries:
The list could be longer, and visiting one of these countries doesn't mean you will be refused; but, it matters, because they have a field in the visa application about the countries visited in the past 10 years. The guys I know were asked questions such as "what's the purpose of visiting". The rejection/approval totally depends on the interviewer and/or your answer. I have noticed the younger you are the higher chance of getting refused, if you visited one of these countries. I guess they believe the younger you are the easier your brain to be washed with anti-US stuff. Also I have noticed people who go to the US on regular basis they do not get refused! Usually these people have family ties. The last thing I have noticed is people who are from those other countries might have better chances of getting the visas while people who visited those countries might not get it! I also think the same logic applies for people who need electronic visas, where no interview is required, except from the customs guys upon arrival.
Anyway, as long as you already obtained the visa, then the chances of being asked again at the immigration/customs are low.
BTW, I work for a multinational company, many of the employees are required to have a US visa for business trips (hundreds) and that's my source. Also, I have been to all countries in the aforementioned list and I was asked the reason behind my visits but I always was granted the visa.
Yeah, they're worried about the person who goes there for terrorist training, not merely that you visited the country.
Are you sure about Bahrain? I've had no problem, no questions asked, multiple trips.
@MeNoTalk I'm explaining **WHY** they care about those patterns. A travel pattern that is the sort of thing a terrorist might do will likely draw their scrutiny.
I have been to Pakistan, I have listed it on every US visa application I've ever filled in (5 of them!), and I've never even had anyone ask me a question about it.
I feel dubious about Pakistan being in that list as well. My father has been to Pakistan several times (he was there when Benazir Bhutto was assassinated) and not even once has he been asked questions regarding the same. The immigration officer in India has asked him jokingly about it once or twice, but other countries...No.
Bahrain is a strong ally for the US, but I know a guy who was refused for going to Bahrain and not mentioning that in the form, the reason could be because he simply didn't put that in the list, but other reason could be that Bahrain is an active ground for Iranian militias... or it was at some point at least.