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The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Travelers must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel and meet all requirements explained below. If you prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.
Requirements for Using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
You must meet all of the following requirements to travel to the United States on the VWP:
Travel Purpose Must be Permitted on a Visitor (B) Visa
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom**
**To be eligible to travel under the VWP, British citizens must have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man.
Each Traveler Must Have a Valid ESTA
In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S.-bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is a web-based system operated by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine eligibility to travel under the VWP to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more information.
Updating Your ESTA
In most cases, your ESTA will be valid for two years. You also must obtain a new ESTA if you: (1) receive a new passport, including an emergency or temporary passport; (2) change your name; (3) change your gender; (4) change your country of citizenship; or (5) need to change your responses to any of the “yes” or “no” questions on the ESTA application.
Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015
Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travelers in the following categories must obtain a visa prior to traveling to the United States as they are no longer eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
These individuals can apply for visas using regular appointment processes at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For those who require a visa for urgent travel to the United States, U.S. Embassies and Consulates stand ready to handle applications on an expedited basis.
If an individual who is exempt from the Act because of his or her diplomatic or military presence in one of the seven countries has his or her ESTA denied, he or she may go to the CBP website, or contact the CBP Information Center. The traveler may also apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that any traveler to the United States check his or her ESTA status prior to making any travel reservations or traveling to the United States. More information is available on the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) website.
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