Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program: Traveling to the U.S. Without a Visa

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of designated countries to apply for admission to the United States as visitors (traveling for holiday and/or business, in transit) without first obtaining a non-immigrant business/tourist visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The Visa Waiver Program allows eligible travels to visit the United States without a visa for a length of stay of no more than 90 days. VWP Travelers must have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before proposed travel. If you have been denied a U.S. visa in the past, you may not be eligible to travel under the VWP and will need to apply for a visitor visa at a U.S. Consulate.

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The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Countries

Currently, 38 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:

AustriaIrelandSan Marino
Czech RepublicLiechtensteinSouth Korea
Germanythe NetherlandsUnited Kingdom
GreeceNew Zealand

To apply for admission into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program the traveler must meet the following conditions:

  1. Have a valid machine-readable passport issued by the participating country and be a citizen (not only a resident) of that country. Generally, the passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the U.S. Children (even infants) need their own, individual machine-readable passport in order to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic must have a machine-readable passport with an integrated chip, also known as an e-Passport. Citizens of Taiwan must also have a national ID number printed on their Passport.

Requirements for Citizens of all other VWP countries:

    1. Machine-readable passports issued, renewed, or extended on or after October 26, 2006 are valid for travel under the VWP if they contain an integrated chip otherwise known as an e-Passport.
    2. If the machine-readable passport is issued, renewed, or extended between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006, it must have a digital photograph printed on the data page or integrated chip otherwise known as an e-Passport. If the machine-readable passport does not have a digital photograph or integrated chip, a U.S. visa must be applied for. However, machine-readable passports without digital photos issued, renewed, or extended before October 26, 2005 will continue to be valid for travel to the United States.
  1. You must be seeking entry for 90 days or less.
  2. You must be traveling on holiday, business, or transit.

5. If entering by air or sea, you must have a round-trip or onward transportation ticket issued by a carrier that has signed an agreement to participate in this program with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and arrive in the United States on such a carrier. To view the carriers approved by USCIS please click here.

  • Travelers with onward tickets terminating in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean Islands must be residents of these areas.
  • If entering overland from Canada or Mexico, no onward ticket is required, but you should be prepared to show proof at the border that you can pay for your stay in the U.S. and that you have a domicile outside of the U.S. to which you intend to return.
What visitors under the VWP cannot do

Visitors applying for entry under the visa waiver program are allowed to remain in the United States for a period of ninety (90) days. This period cannot be extended. VWP visitors cannot change their status while in the United States. Travelers entering initially under the visa waiver program may make side trips to countries adjacent to the United States (including the Caribbean islands) and reenter the United States by any means of transport, provided that the total stay in the region is no longer than 90 days. Visitors for business or tourism cannot work or study in the United States.

Note: Representatives of the foreign press, radio, film, journalists or other information media engaging in that vocation while in the U.S., may not enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program. These professional must obtain a nonimmigrant Media (I) visa.

Emergency and Temporary Passports

If you plan to use an emergency or temporary passport to travel to the US on the VWP, the passport must be an e-Passport.

Applying for a Visitor Visa instead of traveling with the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

In cases where a citizen of a VWP country does not meet the requirements outlined above, the foreign national may apply for a visitor (B) visa at their local US Consulate. Foreign nationals who plan to travel on a private aircraft or non-VWP approved air or sea carrier must apply for a visitor (B) visa at the consulate. You may also apply for a visa at the consulate if you intend to extend your length of stay beyond the 90 day allotment or if you plan to change your status to a student, temporary worker, investor, etc. Foreign nationals who have been previously denied a visitor visa under section 214(b) will not be approved for ESTA and therefore cannot travel under the VWP. These individuals must apply for a visitor visa at the Consulate. You may NOT change your status while traveling on the VWP to another non-immigrant category.

Frequently Asked Questions about Visa Waiver program
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