About the Visa Waiver Program

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About the Visa Waiver Program

About the Visa Waiver Program

ESTA application:About the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The VWP (Visa Waiver Program) is a visa exemption program that is granted to only citizens of countries and territories that have been approved by the US government. Citizens of eligible countries are allowed to stay in the United States for up to 90 days without a visa, but not only for sightseeing or short-term business. Citizens of VWP countries who intend to travel to the United States for sightseeing purposes should apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and get a “Travel Authorization Permit.” It is also attainable to apply for a visa when traveling to the United States, but it is estimated that the entire application procedure would take more than a month, as numerous documents must be submitted and an interview with a consular officer is mandatory. If you are traveling to the United States to work or study, a visa is required, so you must apply for a visa as soon as possible.
The following countries are currently eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

  • Germany
  • France
  • Finland
  • Estonia
  • Denmark
  • Chile
  • Brunei
  • Belgium
  • Austria
  • Australia
  • Andorra
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Japan
  • Taiwan
  • South Korea
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Spain
  • Ireland
  • Iceland
  • Hungary
  • Greece
  • Italy
  • Monaco
  • Malta
  • Latvia
  • Lichtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Poland
  • Croatia
  • Israel
  • Czech Republic
  • United Kingdom

Note :
The VWP (Visa Waiver Program) acquisition of the British nation is limited to a permanent residence maintainer of Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Channel island, and the Isle of Man other than England.

Criteria for participation in the VWP are established in the Aliens and Nationality Act (Title 8 U.S.C. §1187). These criteria are based on having very low rates of refusal of nonimmigrant visas and on levels of passport security.

Starting dates of VWP application by country

  • July 1, 1988: United Kingdom
  • December 16, 1988: Japan
  • October 1, 1989: France
  • October 1, 1989: Germany
  • October 1, 1989: Italy
  • October 1, 1989: Netherlands
  • October 1, 1989: Sweden
  • October 1, 1989: Switzerland
  • 1991: Iceland
  • 1991: Andorra
  • 1991: Austria
  • 1991: Belgium
  • 1991: Denmark
  • 1991: Finland
  • 1991: Lichtenstein
  • 1991: Luxembourg
  • 1991: Monaco
  • 1991: Norway
  • 1991: San Marino
  • 1991: Spain
  • 1991: New Zealand
  • 1993: Brunei
  • April 1, 1995: Ireland
  • 1996: Australia
  • September 30, 1997: Slovenia
  • August 9, 1999: Singapore
  • August 9, 1999: Portugal
  • November 17, 2008: South Korea
  • November 17, 2008: Czech Republic
  • November 17, 2008: Estonia
  • November 17, 2008: Hungary
  • November 17, 2008: Latvia
  • November 17, 2008: Lithuania
  • November 17, 2008: Slovakia
  • December 30, 2008: Malta
  • April 5, 2010: Greece
  • November 1, 2012: Republic of China (Taiwan)
  • February 28, 2014: Chile
  • Novembr 11, 2019: Poland
  • December 1, 2021: Croatia
  • Novembr 7, 2023: Israel
Apply for ESTA here

Conditions of being eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

You must meet the following requirements to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

  • Applicants must have applied for ESTA and obtained travel authorization.
  • The period of stay in the United States must be within 90 days.
  • You must be a citizen of a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and have a valid passport with an IC chip.
  • The purpose of the visit is for sightseeing, business, transit, short-term training, contract negotiations, visits to acquaintances’ homes, and participating in unpaid events or contests.
  • When entering the United States by sea route or air lane, you must have a boarding permit or round-trip ticket for the next destination and a travel ticket as well. Additionally, if you are using an e-ticket, you must show a document containing your travel itinerary.

About ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization)

ESTA is an electronic travel authorization for people traveling to the United States for sightseeing or short-term business purposes without a visa. Since January 2009, under the supervision of DHS (the United States Department of Homeland Security), travelers from abroad are obliged to apply online in advance. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is currently made accessible to citizens of 41 countries. Those who intend to stay in the United States for up to 90 days must complete the application procedure and get a “Travel Authorization Permit” at least three days before their departure. More importantly, even if the stay is less than 90 days, persons seeking to work or study in the United States are not eligible for ESTA application, so please consider acquiring a visa from the US embassy or consulate. ESTA application form takes about ten minutes to complete, and you will have to answer nine questions, which include whether you have a criminal background or not. Additionally, if you answer “yes” to even one of the nine questions, you will not be allowed to travel to the United States using ESTA. For more information about ESTA, please refer to “About ESTA (Electric System for Travel Authorization)

Passport requirements valid for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

When using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), please confirm the following conditions.

About valid passport

  • Must have an E-passport with an IC chip.
  • Apply for ESTA with a valid passport and acquire travel authorization.
  • If your passport’s validity is less than 90 days, you must prove your intention to leave the United States by the deadline.

In general, when traveling to the United States you must have a passport that is valid for at least six months aside from the duration of your stay. However, citizens of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are eligible for the “Six-months Club” program and will be allowed to visit the United States even if their passport is valid for less than six months. For more information on the Six-Month Club and eligible countries, please check “Six-Month Club Requirements“.

Record of overseas travel

  • After March 1, 2011, travelers must not have any history of travel or stay in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen.
  • Citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries must not be dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan, or Syria.

As a result of the 2015 amendment to the Anti-Terrorist Travel Act, individuals who fall under the above conditions are prohibited from traveling to the United States using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). However, exceptions are granted only if you are a military or civil government official traveling to a country authorized by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For details, please refer to “The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act“.

Conditions for entry to the U.S. by land

Nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for whom the first means of entry to the U.S. by an overland route do not need to apply for ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorization).
At present, ESTA applies only to those arriving on cruise ships or by air.
Travelers entering the U.S. by land must submit Form I-94W (https://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/i-94-instructions).

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act

Under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program), those who have travelled to or entered Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Iran, the Sudan, or North Korea on or after March 1, 2011 may not enter the United States with the VWP. Also, travelers with dual citizenship in the Sudan, Syria, Iraq, or Iran, or North Korea in addition to a country eligible for the VWP are ineligible for the VWP to enter the United States, although those travelers who meet the following conditions may be exempt from these restrictions.

  1. Those who entered Yemen, Libya, Somalia, the Sudan, Iraq, Iran, or Syria, or North Korea for the purpose of performing the official duties of a governmental, regional, or international institution
  2. Those who entered Yemen, Libya, Somalia, the Sudan, Iraq, Iran, or Syria, or North Korea for nongovernmental organization or humanitarian aid purposes
  3. Those who entered Yemen, Libya, Somalia, the Sudan, Iraq, Iran, or Syria, or North Korea for purposes of reporting as journalists
  4. Those who entered Iran for business purposes on or after July 14, 2015
  5. Those who entered Iraq for business purposes

Travelers ineligible to use the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Those with histories of arrest, criminal histories, or serious communicable diseases may not be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Besides, those persons who have been refused entry to or deported from the U.S. in the past or have entered the U.S. on the VWP and overstayed their visas may not apply for either ESTA or the VWP. It is expected that travel authorization application from those travelers will be rejected even if they do apply. Such travelers will need to apply for visas if they wish to visit the United States.
Also, travelers desiring to stay in the U.S. for longer than 90 days for employment or to attend school there must apply for visas instead, since VWP is not available for them to enter the country.

Apply for ESTA here

UPDATE : 2024/07/16