The Department of Homeland Security runs the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP) alongside the State Department. It allows citizens of forty countries to visit and travel to the United States for tourism or business without a visa for stays of up to ninety days. Thus facilitating travel to the United States.
Travellers wanting to enter the United States for business, tourism or transit for fewer than 90 days may be eligible for visa-free entry under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
You cannot use the Visa Waiver Program if the objective of your trip is to study for academic credit, get employment, work in the foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media, or establish permanent residency.
Currently, forty nations participate in the Visa Waiver Program:
Travel under the Visa Waiver Program is only permitted to those with passports containing particular security characteristics. Visa Waiver Program requirements are as follows:
- The biographical page of the passport must contain a machine-readable zone
- The passport must be electronic with a digital chip containing the owner’s biometric information
Effective 1 April 2016, all VWP users must possess an e-passport. The symbol denotes an e-Passport, a secure passport with an embedded electronic chip. E-Passports are issued by the proper passport-issuing authority and must comply with international security and storage standards.
- May only travel for Tourism, Business, or Transit purposes
- Must have a clean criminal record, which includes no drunk or drugged driving convictions
- Should provide proof of a return or onward travel ticket to another country
- Must provide evidence of sufficient funds for your visit
- Demonstrate compliance with all previous visa rules and regulations
What should I do if I come under one of the Act’s VWP travel restrictions?
The limitations do not prohibit travel to the United States but require law-abiding travelers to seek a visa from a U.S. Embassy or the Consulate. Visa interview wait times at most U.S. Embassies and Consulates in VWP partner nations and throughout the globe are brief.
You may seek an accelerated visa appointment if you are applying for a non-immigrant visa following ESTA rejection or revocation due to the Act and have impending travel to the United States for business, medical, or humanitarian reasons.
Visas provide many benefits over the ESTA, including the ability to remain in the USA for up to six months at a time, compared to the VWP’s maximum of 90 days. The VWP does not permit visa travelers to extend their stay beyond six months or alter their visa class while in the United States.