Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without the necessity of obtaining a visa from a U.S. Consulate/ Embassy. The Visa Waiver Program was implemented to facilitate international travel. It provides simplified admission procedures for nationals of designated countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. However, in exchange for the United State’s waiver of the need to obtain a visa, the entrant must sign a form (Form I-94 W- Arrival and Departure form) acknowledging that he willfully waives his due process right to challenge or receive a hearing pertaining to the Department of Homeland Security’s determination of his/her admissibility or deportation determination. It is worth mentioning here that such a waiver does not waive the entrant’s due process rights to receive a hearing on his/her asylum application in the United States. Thus, the Visa Waiver Program also provides an expedited removal process for foreign nationals who violate U.S. immigration laws and regulations pertaining to the Visa Waiver Program.
Visa Waiver Countries:
There are currently 36 countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program. The designated countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom refers only to British citizens who have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man). It does not refer to British overseas citizens, British dependent territories' citizens, or citizens of British Commonwealth countries. It is pertinent to mention here that eligible citizens of aforesaid designated countries may still choose to apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate/Embassy if they prefer.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection which determines the foreign national’s eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Foreign nationals who wish to travel on the Visa Waiver Program are required to apply for authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before they travel to the United States. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s website can be accessed to obtain the mandatory authorization and then pay the requisite fee at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/
Foreign Nationals from the aforesaid designated countries may qualify to use the Visa Waiver Program if:
- They have paid the requisite fee and have received an authorization to travel under the Visa Waiver Program through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization
- They present the machine readable passport valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States
- The duration of their stay in the United States is 90 days or less for tourism or business
- They are traveling on an “approved carrier” and have a return trip ticket to any foreign destination
At The Ahluwalia Firm, our emphasis is on:
- confirming eligibility that travel on the Visa Waiver Program is appropriate for you
- providing expert legal advice
- delivering value for money, ensuring seamless preparation of your visa application
- ensuring a service-delivery model that meets and exceeds your satisfaction
For further information about our ability to review you personal circumstances, contact us for reliable advice.