The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business [visitor (B) visa purposes] for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The program was established in 1986 with the objective of eliminating unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting the Department of State to focus consular resources in other areas. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA); are screened at their port of entry into the United States; and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. VISIT(http://www.dhs.gov/files/programs/usv.shtm) program.
Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?
Currently, 38 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:
Which travelers may use the Visa Waiver Program to enter the U.S.?
Nationals of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program may use VWP if:
- They have received an authorization to travel under the VWP through ESTA (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov)
- They present the appropriate type of passport valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions)
- The purpose of their stay in the United States is 90 days or less for tourism or business. Transit through the United States is generally permitted. Note also that travelers planning to work or study cannot travel on VWP, and they must obtain the appropriate visa to travel to the United States
- If arriving by air or sea, they are traveling on an approved carrier and have a return trip ticket to any foreign destination
- They can demonstrate the intent to stay 90 days or less in the United States and demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the United States
VWP travelers who have been admitted under the VWP and who make a short trip to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island generally can be readmitted to the United States under the VWP for the balance of their original admission period. In addition, VWP nationals resident in Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands are generally exempted from requirements to show onward travel to other foreign destinations.