The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a US policy which allows international travelers to bypass the need for a visa. With a Visa Waiver, you can travel to the United States without having to apply for a visa in advance or on arrival.
It is important to remember that this type of program is not a visa, but gives you permission to enter the country visa-free.
What is the Visa Waiver Program in the US?
The United States has the Visa Waiver Program for citizens of certain nations.
The US Visa Waiver allows you to enter the country for up to 90 days without a visa. The purpose of the visit must be for business or tourism.
Foreign travelers who wish to visit the US for more than 90 days, or to work or study, must apply for a visa instead. This applies even if they are eligible for the VWP.
How Many Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?
There are currently 40 countries in the US Visa Waiver Program:
The Visa Waiver Program is reciprocated by these countries for US citizens and nationals. Passengers from the United States can travel to these countries without a visa, for a similar length of time as the US VWP.
More nations could be added to the list of eligible countries in the future.
What are the Requirements for the VWP?
There are a number of requirements that applicants must meet in order to travel to the US with the Visa Waiver Program.
If you fail to meet one or more of these terms, you cannot apply for the Visa Waiver. Instead, you need to apply for a visa for your trip to the United States.
Passport requirements for the US Visa Waiver
The passport used for the Visa Waiver must meet the US government’s conditions to be accepted.
The travel document must be an e-passport (or biometric passport) with an embedded identity chip that can be scanned by immigration. To check if your passport is an e-passport, look for the e-passport symbol on the front cover of your passport.
The passport must also be valid for at least 6 months after the date of planned departure from the United States.
If your passport cannot meet both of these requirements, then it will not be accepted for use with the US Visa Waiver Program.
Eligible countries for the US VWP
To be eligible for the US Visa Waiver, you must be a citizen or national of one of the countries listed above.
If you have dual citizenship with one of the following countries, then you cannot apply for the VWP:
- North Korea
The same applies if you have been in one of these nations since March 1, 2011. In this case, you must apply for a US visa instead. This applies even if you are a citizen of an eligible country.
Valid US ESTA
To travel to the US through the Visa Waiver Program, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
The US ESTA is an online service that automatically screens eligible passengers for the Visa Waiver Program. The application is processed completely online, and the approved travel document is sent to you by email.
The US ESTA permits you to travel to the US without a visa and stay for up to 90 days. The travel document is valid for 2 years from the date of issue, and allows multiple entries into the United States.
You must apply online and receive an approved ESTA before you travel to the United States. Without a confirmed US ESTA, you cannot travel to the US without a visa.