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The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals of 37 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa. The participating countries include Australia, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Japan, Singapore, Latvia, Slovakia, Lithuania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan as of November 1, 2012. The full list of participating countries can be found at the USCIS website.

VWP travelers must present the appropriate type of passport valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States. Nationals of some countries need an electronic passport with an integrated chip, while the others need a machine-readable passport.

The program aim is to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulate tourism, and permit the Department of State to focus their resources in other areas. VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel, are screened at the port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.

The VWP requirements are the same for those applying for a B-1/B-2 visitor’s visa. The VWP traveler must demonstrate their intent to stay 90 days or less in the United States for tourism or business, and demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the United States. They cannot work or study while in the United States and must not intend to remain there after the 90 days is complete. The VWP will not be available for anyone with a criminal record or other condition making them ineligible for a visa, or if they were refused admission to the United States before, or did not comply with the conditions of previous VWP admissions (90 days or less stay for tourism or business, etc.).

Please note that nothing contained herein shall constitute legal advice or shall be deemed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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Alice Antonovsky
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