Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from certain countries to travel to the United States for business or pleasure, for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers admitted under the Visa Waiver Program must agree to waive their rights to review or appeal, as explained in the Waiver of Rights section of the Application screen. See Who is eligible to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program? for further information.

For further information refer to § 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1187, and 8 C.F.R. § 217.

Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program?

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

 

Who is eligible to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program?

You are eligible to apply for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) if you:

  • Intend to enter the United States for 90 days or less for business, pleasure or transit
  • Have a valid passport lawfully issued to you by a Visa Waiver Program country
  • Have authorization to travel via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization
  • Arrive via a Visa Waiver Program signatory carrier
  • Have a return or onward ticket
  • Travel may not terminate in contiguous territory or adjacent islands unless the traveler is a resident of one of those areas
  • Are a citizen or national of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries listed below:
Andorra Estonia Ireland Monaco Singapore Taiwan
Australia Finland Italy Netherlands Slovakia United Kingdom
Austria France Japan New Zealand Slovenia Chile
Belgium Germany Latvia Norway South Korea  
Brunei Greece Liechtenstein Portugal Spain  
Czech Republic Hungary Lithuania Republic of Malta Sweden  
Denmark Iceland Luxembourg San Marino Switzerland  
  • Establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting United States Customs and Border Protection officer that you are entitled to be admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and that you are not inadmissible under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
  • Waive any rights to review or appeal of the admissibility determination of the United States Customs and Border Protection officer, or contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Reaffirm, through the submission of biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and photographs) during processing upon arrival in the United States, your waiver of any rights to review or appeal of the admissibility determination of the United States Customs and Border Protection officer, or contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Obtain an Authorization Approved determination following a travel authorization application.
  • Not pose a threat to the welfare, health, safety, or security of the United States.
  • Have complied with all conditions of any previous admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

What are the passport requirements for travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

Visa Waiver Program requirements are:

  • The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
  • Issued on or after October 26, 2005 – Each Visa Waiver Program passport issued on or after this date must have a digital photo.
  • Issued on or after October 26, 2006 – Each Visa Waiver Program passport issued on or after this date must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.

EXCEPTION: To be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, persons presenting United Kingdom passports must possess the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man

EXCEPTION: Citizens and nationals of Slovenia may use only the red cover Slovenian passport for admission under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

EXCEPTION: Effective July 1, 2009, Visa Waiver Program countries’ emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports.

    • Citizens of the following Visa Waiver Program countries are required to present electronic passports:
      • Czech Republic
      • Estonia
      • Slovakia
      • Hungary
      • Latvia
      • Lithuania
      • Republic of Malta
      • South Korea
      • Greece
    • Citizens from Visa Waiver Program eligible countries must present a machine-readable passport unless they are from:
      • Czech Republic
      • Estonia
      • Slovakia
      • Hungary
      • Latvia
      • Lithuania
      • Republic of Malta
      • South Korea
      • Greece
    • A machine readable passport contains two lines of text with numbers and chevrons (<<<) at the bottom of the personal information page with the passport bearer’s picture. Document requirements vary according to the date a passport was issued or renewed as follows:
      • Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended before October 26, 2005 have no additional requirements.
      • If a passport was issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2005 and does not meet the following requirements, the traveler must obtain a visa:
        1. Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2005 through October 25, 2006 must meet the following requirements: A digital photograph printed on the passport data page is required OR an integrated chip containing information from the data page (e-passport). A digital photo is one that is printed on the page, not a photo that is glued or laminated into the passport.

 

      2. Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after October 26, 2006 are required to be e-passports.
    • For more information, please see the Customs and Border Protection Web site, CBP.gov, under Travel, For International Visitors, Visiting for Business or Pleasure, Visa Waiver Program.
  • Taiwan passport holders must provide Passport Number and Personal Identification Number (PIN).

When must I obtain a visa to travel to the United States?

  • If you intend to arrive in the United States aboard a non-signatory air carrier.
  • If you intend to visit the United States for more than 90 days.
  • If you believe any grounds of inadmissibility of the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a) apply to you, you should apply for a nonimmigrant visa before traveling to the United States. Although you may be inadmissible to the United States, you may qualify for a non-immigrant visa and waiver, which may allow you to travel to the United States.
  • If you are traveling to the United States for a purpose other than short-term tourism or business.

Are there disadvantages to using the Visa Waiver Program?

Before using the Visa Waiver Program, be aware of the following conditions that apply and carefully consider your options:

  • If you are admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, you may not change or extend your non-immigrant status.
  • If your admission is denied, you have no right to appeal a determination as to admissibility.
  • If you are found to have violated the terms of your admission, you also have no right to review or appeal, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

What if a Visa Waiver Program applicant is found to be inadmissible?

Travelers applying for admission to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program who are determined to be inadmissible to the United States will be denied admission and returned to their country of origin, or a third country from which the traveler holds a round-trip ticket, aboard the carrier on which the traveler arrived in the United States.

How do I get more information on the Visa Waiver Program?

http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/business_pleasure/vwp/

www.travel.state.gov

Why is authorization under ESTA required for United States-bound travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

The “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007″ (9/11 Act) amended Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), requiring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement an electronic travel authorization system and other measures to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA adds another layer of security that allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.