Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 38 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business (visitor [B] visa purposes only) 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. Nationals of VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel without a visa on VWP, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program.
VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel, are screened at the port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.
Currently, 38 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:
Emergency and Temporary passports must be E- Passports
Effective July 1, 2009, all emergency or temporary passports presented for application to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), including transit through the United States, must be electronic passports; (e-Passports). ; An e-Passport contains an integrated chip that stores biographic data, a digitized photograph, and other information about the bearer, and is distinguished by a gold-colored symbol on the passport’s front cover.
VWP applicants arriving in the United States with a non-compliant passport may be required to undergo further processing and/or denied admission. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) may exercise discretion at the ports of entry in cases of medical or other emergency travel.
Individuals traveling to or transiting the United States under the VWP must present a DHS-approved passport as indicated below:
- VWP applicants who are citizens of the following countries must present electronic Passports (e-Passport - see above for description):
Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic.
- The passport requirements for VWP applicants who are nationals of the remaming countries are as follows:
- October 26, 2005* – Passports issued prior to this date must be machine-readable.
- October 26, 2005* – Passports issued on or after this date must have a digital photo. (E-Passports are acceptable for this purpose.)
- October 26, 2006 – Passports issued on or after this date must be an e-Passport.
An alternative to these requirements is to apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. For more information visit the Department of State website.
*The kinderreisepass (German child’s passport) is valid for visa-free travel only if issued prior to October 26, 2006.
The information posted on this website is for reference only.
For more detailed information on the Visa Waiver Program please visit the VWP section on the Department of State website.