There are currently 39 Visa Waiver countries that as of January 12, 2009 require an approved ESTA Travel Authorization to visit the United States via air or sea. Individuals holding a passport from any of these countries may visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program under certain conditions. Travelers with a passport from any other country must obtain a B-1 or B-2 Visitor Visa in advance. Note that a travel authorization (ESTA) must be applied for online in advance, while Form I-94W is normally completed while flying or at the U.S. port of entry.
The visa waiver program is a U.S. government program that enables citizens and nationals from 39 countries to enter the United States for business or visitor purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The advantage of entering the United States under the visa waiver program is that you can travel to the United States on short notice without obtaining a visa. Visa Waiver Travelers are required to have an approved travel authorization (ESTA) to enter the United States by air or sea.
Important Facts About the Visa Waiver Program:
- Travelers entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are authorized to remain in the country for up to 90 days. Extensions are not allowed.
- A machine-readable passport is required for all Visa Waiver travelers.
- An approved ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization) is mandatory for all Visa Waiver travelers entering the U.S. by air or sea after January 12, 2009.
- The U.S. Department of State may add or remove countries from the Visa Waiver Program. Argentina and Uruguay were recently removed, and the following countries were added: Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Slovakia and South Korea.
- The Visa Waiver Program is normally abbreviated as VWP (Visa Waiver Program)
- The Visa Waiver Program was established in 1986 with the objective of stimulating the tourism industry in the United State.
If you are a U.S. citizen, other requirements might be of importance to you. You can read more about these requirements here.
Canada is not part of the Visa Waiver Program, and there are other requirements for Canadian citizens when crossing the U.S. border. You can learn more about these requirements here.