The Visa Waiver Program allows foreign nationals from certain designated countries to enter the U.S. for a period of up to 90 days as a visitor for business or pleasure without obtaining a visa.
As of May 2018, this is the list of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program.
- Czech Republic
- Republic of Korea
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- United Kingdom (those with unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man)
To enter the U.S. under the VWP, you should fulfill certain criteria:
- Be a national of the VWP country that issued your passport.
- Have a Machine-Readable e-Passport lawfully issued to you by a VWP country that is valid for six .months beyond your intended visit and contains an embedded electronic chip.
- Be a nonimmigrant (you have a home in a foreign country you have no intention of abandoning).
- Intend to enter the U.S. for 90 days or less.
- Obtain authorization to travel on VWP through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)
- Not pose a safety or health threat to the U.S.
- Not have failed to comply with the conditions of any previous admission under the VWP or nonimmigrant visa.
- Must not have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 except for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country.
- Must not also be a national of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
Advantages And Disadvantages of VWP
The obvious advantage of entering the U.S. under the VWP is that you may travel to the U.S. without first obtaining a visa unless you are otherwise inadmissible.
The disadvantages of the VWP are that you may not change or extend your nonimmigrant status after entering the U.S. If you are denied admission at the port of entry, you have no right to administrative or judicial review. Likewise, if you are found to have violated the terms of your admission, you also forfeit the right to contest a removal order. Visa Waiver entrants, like all other foreign nationals in the U.S., who overstay their authorized stay by either six months or one year are subject to the three and ten-year bars as they are ‘unlawfully present’ in the U.S. If detained by immigration authorities for overstaying or otherwise violating the terms of your admission, VWP entrants can be removed immediately.
Short Trips To Canada, Mexico or Adjacent Islands While on VWP
Generally, VWP entrants may be readmitted to the U.S. after a departure to Canada or Mexico or adjacent islands for the balance of their original admission period, provided they are otherwise admissible and meet all the conditions of the VWP, with the exception of arrival on a signatory carrier – in which case the inspecting officers has the discretion to grant the applicants entirely new periods of admission.
Visa-free travel under the VWP is surely hassle-free, but before you plan your trip to the U.S., it is your responsibility to ensure that the purpose and duration of your trip comports with the Visa Waiver Program.
We at VisaPro keep track of all the developments related to the Visa Waiver Program and will continue to update you on the latest happenings.
Contact VisaPro if you have any questions regarding any type of business or work visas. Our experienced attorneys will be happy to assist you.
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