US Visa

US Visa Waiver Program

US Visa Waiver Program: For a maximum of 90 days, nationals of 40 countries are permitted to enter the United States for business or pleasure without a visa thanks to the Visa Waiver Program. These objectives must coincide with those of the B1 or B2 visa.

The Department of Homeland Security oversees the program, which was developed to increase visitor security while allowing US citizens unrestricted travel to the other 40 nations. It is advantageous to both parties and, above all, makes travel much safer.

You won’t need to apply for a visa if you meet the requirements and are from a nation with which the US maintains cordial relations. The stamp indicating your participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on your passport is the only paperwork required for entry into the United States.

What Are the 40 Visa Waiver Countries?

The 40 Visa Waiver Countries are the following:

  • Andorra(1991)
  • Australia(1996)
  • Austria(1991)
  • Belgium(1991)
  • Brunei(1993)
  • Chile(2014)
  • Czechia(2008)
  • Denmark(1991)
  • Estonia(2008)
  • Finland(1991)
  • France(1989)
  • Germany(1989)
  • Greece(2010)
  • Hungary(2008)
  • Iceland(1991)
  • Ireland(1995)
  • Italy(1989)
  • Japan(1988)
  • South Korea(2008)
  • Latvia(2008)
  • Liechtenstein(1991)
  • Lithuania(2008)
  • Luxembourg(1991)
  • Malta(2008)
  • Monaco(1991)
  • Netherlands(1989)
  • New Zealand(1991)
  • Norway(1991)
  • Poland(2019)
  • Portugal(1999)
  • San Marino(1991)
  • Singapore(1999)
  • Slovakia(2008)
  • Slovenia(1997)
  • Spain(1991)
  • Sweden(1989)
  • Switzerland(1989)
  • Taiwan(2012)
  • United Kingdom(1988)
  • Croatia(2021)

Do I Qualify to Travel to the United States Under the Visa Waiver Program?

To determine whether you qualify to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you need to consider several factors. The VWP is available to citizens of specific countries for short stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. Here are key points to assess your eligibility:

Citizenship: You must be a citizen of a country that is currently designated as a participant in the Visa Waiver Program. The list of eligible countries can be found on the official U.S. government website. Keep in mind that the list may change, so it’s important to check for updates.

Purpose of Travel: The VWP is designed for individuals traveling to the U.S. for tourism or business purposes. If your purpose of travel involves work, study, or other activities beyond tourism or business meetings, the VWP may not be suitable.

Duration of Stay: The maximum duration of stay under the VWP is 90 days. If your intended stay in the U.S. exceeds this limit, you may need to explore other visa options.

ESTA Authorization: Before traveling, you must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an online system that collects information about your eligibility and background. Ensure that your ESTA is approved before boarding your flight to the U.S.

Round-Trip Ticket: To enter the U.S. under the VWP, you are typically required to have a round-trip ticket. This indicates your intention to depart the U.S. within the authorized 90-day period.

Passport Requirements: Your passport must meet certain requirements, including being an electronic passport with a digital chip, and it should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure from the U.S.

Previous Compliance: If you have previously traveled to the U.S. under the VWP, ensure that you complied with the terms of your previous visits, including timely departure from the U.S.

Ineligibility Factors: Certain factors, such as criminal convictions or previous visa denials, may make you ineligible for the VWP. If you have concerns about your eligibility, consider consulting with the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.

To apply for ESTA authorization, visit the official ESTA website and complete the online application. Keep in mind that while ESTA approval facilitates travel, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers will conduct further screening upon your arrival in the U.S.

Always refer to the official U.S. government websites for the most up-to-date information, as the eligibility criteria and requirements may be subject to change.

What Documents Do I Need to Travel under the Visa Waiver USA?

To travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you need to have the following documents and meet specific requirements:

Passport: You must possess a valid electronic passport with a digital chip. The passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended date of departure from the U.S.

ESTA Authorization: Obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before boarding your flight to the U.S. ESTA is an online system that assesses your eligibility and collects information about your background.

Round-Trip Ticket: Have a round-trip ticket, indicating your intention to depart the U.S. within the 90-day authorized period. This ticket may be requested by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers upon your arrival.

Proof of Intent: Be prepared to demonstrate the purpose of your trip, whether for tourism or business. Carry documents such as hotel reservations, an invitation letter for business meetings, or an itinerary to support your intended activities.

Financial Means: Carry evidence of your financial ability to cover the costs of your stay in the U.S. This may include bank statements, credit cards, or other proof of funds.

ESTA Approval Printout: Print a copy of your approved ESTA authorization. While CBP officers will have access to your ESTA status, having a printout can be helpful in case of any issues.

Health Insurance Information: It’s advisable to have information about your health insurance coverage during your stay in the U.S. While not a strict requirement, it can be useful in case of medical emergencies.

Contact Information: Provide accurate contact information, including the address where you will be staying in the U.S. This information may be requested by CBP officers.

Compliance with Previous Visits: If you have previously traveled to the U.S. under the VWP, ensure that you complied with the terms of your previous visits and departed the country on time.

Additional Documentation for Business Visitors: If you are traveling for business, carry documents related to your business activities, such as letters of invitation, meeting schedules, or conference registrations.

It’s important to note that while the above documents are generally required, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers have the authority to make determinations about entry on a case-by-case basis. Adherence to the terms of the VWP and preparation with the necessary documentation can contribute to a smooth entry process.

Always refer to the official U.S. government websites for the most up-to-date information and any changes to entry requirements under the Visa Waiver Program.

Benefits and Limitations of Travelling Under the VWP

Traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to the United States offers several benefits, but it also comes with certain limitations. Understanding these aspects is essential for a smooth and hassle-free travel experience. Here are the benefits and limitations of traveling under the VWP:


No Visa Required: Citizens of VWP countries can travel to the U.S. for tourism or business purposes without obtaining a visa. Instead, they need to obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Streamlined Application Process: The ESTA application process is online and generally straightforward. Travelers can apply for authorization before their trip, making it a convenient and efficient process.

Short-Term Stays: The VWP is designed for short stays of up to 90 days, making it suitable for tourism, business meetings, and short-term visits.

Multiple Entries: Once approved, an ESTA authorization is generally valid for two years or until the passport expires. During this period, travelers can make multiple entries into the U.S. for stays of up to 90 days each.

Flexibility for Last-Minute Travel: The VWP allows for relatively flexible and last-minute travel plans, as there is no need to schedule a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

No Visa Application Fees: While there is a fee associated with the ESTA application, it is generally less expensive than the fees associated with traditional visa applications.


Short Duration of Stay: The VWP is suitable for short stays of up to 90 days. If you need to stay longer, you must explore other visa options.

No Work or Study: Travel under the VWP is limited to tourism or business activities. Work, study, or other activities that require a longer stay are not permitted.

No Change of Status: While in the U.S. under the VWP, you cannot change your immigration status. If you wish to pursue a different visa category or extend your stay, you must leave the country and apply from your home country.

No Adjustment of Status: Travelers under the VWP cannot adjust their status to become a permanent resident (green card holder) while in the U.S. They must return to their home country to apply for immigrant visas, if eligible.

Overstay Consequences: Overstaying the 90-day limit can have serious consequences, including being barred from future use of the VWP and potential difficulties with future visa applications.

Limited Eligibility: Not all countries are part of the VWP, so citizens of non-participating countries must go through the traditional visa application process.

Understanding and adhering to the terms and limitations of the VWP are crucial for a positive travel experience. Always check for the latest information on the official U.S. government websites to stay informed about any changes or updates to the program.

What if I cannot get a Visa Waiver?

You have one more choice if your application for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization has been rejected or if you are not qualified for a Visa Waiver for whatever reason. You are able to apply for a standard B1/B2 visa, among other US visas. If the visa is denied to you as well, you must confirm that you are eligible for a visa to enter the United States. Applying for a B1 or B2 visa can save you a lot more time.

If you are traveling on a private aircraft or an air or sea carrier that is not authorized by the VWP, you will also not be eligible for a Visa Waiver.

Can I get a Green Card on an American Visa Waiver?

No, if you are in the country under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you are not eligible to apply directly for a green card, which is legal permanent residence. The Visa Waiver Program does not offer a route to permanent residency; rather, it is intended for brief trips of up to 90 days for tourist or business.

Can I bring my dependents with a USA Visa Waiver?

Every Visa Waiver granted is unique and does not apply to a collective of individuals. Thus, in order for you and your family—spouse and kids included—to visit the US together, you must all be qualified for the Visa Waiver and obtain one for each of you.

To be eligible for the Visa Waiver, even toddlers need to meet the requirements and have a current passport. Because of this, you need to obtain a Visa Waiver for each dependent in order to bring them into the country.

Do I Need to Obtain Health Insurance as a Visitor in the United States?

While it is not a mandatory requirement for all visitors to the United States, having health insurance is highly recommended. The U.S. healthcare system operates differently from systems in many other countries, and medical expenses can be substantial. Here are some important points to consider:

No Universal Healthcare: Unlike some other countries with universal healthcare systems, the United States does not have a government-sponsored healthcare system that covers all residents and visitors.

High Healthcare Costs: Medical treatment in the U.S. can be expensive. Without insurance, visitors may be personally responsible for the full cost of medical services, including doctor visits, hospital stays, prescription medications, and emergency care.

Health Insurance for Emergencies: Health insurance is particularly important for covering unforeseen emergencies, accidents, or sudden illnesses. Emergency medical care in the U.S. can incur significant costs.

Visa Requirements: While health insurance is not a requirement for obtaining a U.S. visa, some specific visa categories, such as the J-1 Exchange Visitor visa, may have regulations requiring participants to have health insurance coverage.

University or Program Requirements: If you are coming to the U.S. for academic or exchange programs, the sponsoring institution or program may have health insurance requirements. It’s essential to check and comply with any such requirements.

Peace of Mind: Having health insurance provides peace of mind and financial protection in case of unexpected medical expenses. It can also ensure that you have access to necessary healthcare services during your stay.

Affordable Care Act (ACA): The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has made health insurance more accessible for many residents, but coverage is generally not available for short-term visitors. U.S. residents and certain categories of immigrants may be subject to the ACA’s individual mandate, which requires maintaining health coverage.

When choosing health insurance for your visit to the U.S., consider factors such as coverage limits, deductibles, copayments, and the network of healthcare providers. It’s recommended to select a plan that provides comprehensive coverage, especially for emergency situations.

Before traveling to the U.S., check with your insurance provider or explore travel insurance options to ensure that you have adequate coverage during your stay. Keep in mind that the specifics of health insurance coverage can vary, so it’s important to understand the terms and conditions of your policy.

How Does a Country Join the Visa Waiver Program?

To join the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), a country must go through a thorough application and assessment process. The decision to admit a country into the VWP is based on various factors, including security, immigration enforcement, and compliance with program requirements. Here are the general steps a country takes to join the Visa Waiver Program:

Express Interest: A country that wishes to participate in the VWP typically expresses its interest to the U.S. government. This interest may be conveyed through diplomatic channels.

Eligibility Assessment: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) assesses the eligibility of the country based on various criteria. This includes considerations such as the country’s security practices, immigration enforcement, and the level of cooperation in sharing information related to terrorism and criminal activities.

Bilateral Negotiations: If the initial assessment is favorable, bilateral negotiations take place between the interested country and the U.S. government. The negotiations involve discussions on the terms and conditions of participation in the VWP.

Agreement on Security Measures: The country seeking to join the VWP is expected to agree to implement specific security measures and share information with U.S. authorities. This includes the implementation of biometric and electronic passport standards, information exchange related to criminal and terrorist activities, and other security enhancements.

Legislation: In some cases, the interested country may need to enact or amend domestic legislation to meet the legal requirements of the VWP.

Approval by U.S. Congress: The participation of a new country in the VWP requires approval by the U.S. Congress. The country’s adherence to security and information-sharing requirements is assessed, and the decision to grant approval is subject to congressional review.

Designation as a VWP Country: If the U.S. Congress approves, the country is designated as a participant in the Visa Waiver Program. Once designated, citizens of that country can travel to the United States for short stays of up to 90 days for tourism or business without obtaining a visa.

Continuous Monitoring: Participating countries are subject to continuous monitoring to ensure ongoing compliance with VWP requirements. Failure to meet these requirements could result in suspension or removal from the program.

It’s important to note that not all countries are eligible to join the Visa Waiver Program, and the decision to admit a country is based on a comprehensive evaluation of various factors. The process is diplomatic, involves cooperation on security matters, and is subject to legislative approval. The list of participating countries can change over time as new countries express interest or existing participants undergo assessments.


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