Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”)

The Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”) permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days without a visa, if they meet the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”) requirements. In return, those 38 countries must permit U.S. citizens and nationals to travel to their countries for a similar length of time without a visa for business or tourism purposes.

I. Requirements for using the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”):

  1. Documentary of evidence showing the purpose of the trip is to enter the United States temporarily for business or pleasure, including:
    • Consult with business associates
    • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
    • Attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the united states with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
    • Negotiate a contract
    • Tourism
    • Vacation (holiday)
    • Visit with friends or relatives
    • Medical treatment
    • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
    • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
    • Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
  2. 2. Proof of citizen or national of the following 38 countries:
    • Andorra
    • Australia
    • Austria
    • Belgium
    • Brunei
    • Chile
    • Czech Republic
    • Denmark
    • Estonia
    • Finland
    • France
    • Germany
    • Greece
    • Hungary
    • Iceland
    • Ireland
    • Italy
    • Japan
    • Latvia
    • Liechtenstein
    • Lithuania
    • Luxembourg
    • Malta
    • Monaco
    • Netherlands
    • New Zealand
    • Norway
    • Poland
    • Portugal
    • San Marino
    • Singapore
    • Slovakia
    • Slovenia
    • South Korea
    • Spain
    • Sweden
    • Switzerland
    • Taiwan*
    • United Kingdom**
      **To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
  3. Valid E-passport: Applicant’s passport must be valid for at least six months beyond his/her period of stay in the U.S. and Applicant must have an e-passport to use the VWP. An e-passport is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. The chip can be scanned to match the identity of the traveler to the passport. E-Passports must be in compliance with standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Applicant can readily identify an e-passport, by a symbol on the cover.
  4. Valid and updated ESTA: Applicant must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is a web-based system operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine eligibility to travel under the VWP to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more information. In most cases, Applicant’s ESTA will be valid for two years. Applicant also must obtain a new ESTA if Applicant: (1) receive a new passport, including an emergency or temporary passport; (2) change Applicant’s name; (3) change Applicant’s gender; (4) change Applicant’s country of citizenship; or (5) need to change Applicant’s responses to any of the “yes” or “no” questions on the ESTA application.

II. Recent trend/ updates

  • Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, December 18, 2015: Travelers in the following categories must obtain a visa prior to traveling to the United States as they are no longer eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including (1) nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country); and (2) nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.

III. Additional Notes

  • If you enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (“VWP”), you are not permitted to extend your stay in the United States beyond the initial admission period. You must depart the United States on or before the date on your admission stamp when you entered the United States.
  • If you enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you are not permitted to change status in the United States.