Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries (see below) to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

Important Notice: The Department of Homeland Security has begun the process of implementing changes to the traveler eligibility requirements of the Visa Waiver Program mandated by the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015. More information about the changes can be found here.

Currently, there are 36 countries enrolled in the VWP:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.

You may travel visa-free if you meet all of the following requirements:
  1. You are a citizen of one of the above mentioned countries.
  2. You hold a valid (machine readable/biometric) passport of that country.
  3. You intend to travel to the United States for business, pleasure or transit only.
  4. Your stay in the United States does not exceed 90 days.
  5. You hold a valid return or onward ticket.

If you are eligible to travel on the VWP, but prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.

 How to register with ESTA:
  • Make sure you have a biometric passport
  • Go to the ESTA web site at
  • Complete the ESTA registration form.
  • The web-based system will prompt you to answer basic biographical and eligibility questions typically requested on paper I-94W form. The I-94W paper form is no longer required.
  • The web site is translated into multiple languages; however, all answers must be submitted in English and without diacritics.
  • Applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, preferably at least 72 hours before travel.
  • A third party, such as friends, relative, or personnel in the travel industry, may file an application on your behalf. A third party may also pay the associated fees on behalf of the traveler. However, the  traveler is responsible for the truthfulness and accuracy of all information submitted on his or her behalf.
  • In most cases, you will receive one of the following responses within seconds at the ESTA website:
    1. Authorization Approved: Travel authorized. We highly encourage you to print out the ESTA application response in order to maintain a record of the ESTA application number.
    2. Authorization Pending: You need to check the ESTA Web site for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
    3. Travel Not Authorized: You must obtain a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy before traveling to the U.S.

An approved travel authorization via ESTA is:

  • Required for all VWP travelers prior to traveling to the U.S. under the VWP.
  • Valid, unless revoked, for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
  • Valid for multiple entries into the U.S.
  • Not a guarantee of admission to the United States at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP.
Transit under the Visa Waiver Program
  • Travelers who qualify for visa free travel under the Visa Waiver Program may transit the United States. Prior to boarding the carrier they must obtain travel authorization under ESTA.
  • The Visa Waiver Program applies to the United States of America, including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • After entering the United States, you may travel to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean within 90 days and re-enter the U.S. using any mode of transport.
  • You may also enter the U.S. without a visa traveling from Canada or Mexico for up to 90 days.
The following categories of travelers may not travel using the VWP and require a visa
  • People who intend to work in the United States (paid or unpaid). This also applies to journalists, au-pairs and interns.
  • People who have previously been denied a U.S. visa.
  • People who intend to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days.
  • People who plan to attend a school or university in the United States.
  • People who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from the United States within the past five years, or have previously overstayed on the VWP.
  • People who have been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime.
  • People who have been afflicted with a serious communicable disease, a dangerous physical or mental disorder, or who are drug abusers or addicts.

If any of the above applies to you, you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and will need a visa to enter the United States.

Registration Fee

As of September 8, 2010, there is a fee required for ESTA registration. The fee is comprised of two parts:

  • Processing Charge
    All applicants requesting an electronic travel authorization are charged for the processing of the application. The fee is $4.00.
  • Authorization Charge
    If you application is approved and you receive authorization to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, an additional$10.00 will be charged to your credit card. If your electronic travel authorization is denied, you are only charged for the processing of your application.