Legislation proposing the move received final congressional approval late on Thursday when the Senate unanimously passed it on a voice vote. The House of Representatives approved it on May 8.
It removes the “terrorist” label and travel restrictions imposed on Mandela and other cadres from the African National Congress, which fought to end white minority rule in South Africa. The ANC was banned by South Africa’s apartheid government in 1960.
Mandela, who retired from politics nine years ago, has become a worldwide symbol of freedom. US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice has called the US travel restrictions on Mandela and the ANC “embarrassing” and urged an end them.
Stricter security measures passed by Congress after the 9/11 attacks against the US kept the ANC’s terrorist label because it used armed force as part of its campaign against apartheid.