Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows foreign nationals from certain countries to be admitted to the U.S. under limited conditions and for a limited time without obtaining a visa. Visitors to Canada who wish to travel on to the United States, and who are citizens of countries included in the program, have only to present their passports at any U.S. port of entry.
The advantage of entering the U.S. under the VWP is that tourists and people wishing to conduct business in America can travel to the U.S. spontaneously without obtaining visas, unless they are otherwise inadmissible.
Citizens of VWP countries may still be refused entry to the U.S. under a variety of circumstances. This page presents information that will be sufficient for most travelers. If your circumstances are unusual, it is strongly recommended that you follow the links provided for more detailed information.
Note: Passports issued between October 26, 2005 and October 26, 2006 must contain a digitized photograph of the bearer to be eligible for entry under the VWP. Passports issued after October 26, 2006 must be e-passports -- that is, they must include an integrated computer chip in order to be eligible for entry under the VWP.
Countries in the Visa Waiver Program
Below is the list of countries currently in the VWP. Please note that the U.S. Attorney General, in consultation with the U.S. Secretary of State, may add countries to the program or remove them from the program at any time. For information on how countries qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, please visit this page on the VWP.
Note: Please read beyond the list of qualifying countries as there are specific passport requirements and other eligibility requirements which will require some citizens of VWP countries to apply for a U.S. visa. Most notably, visitors to the U.S. are required to present a Machine Readable Passport in order to utilize the Visa Waiver program.
Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP:
|New Zealand||Norway||Portugal||San Marino|
* United Kingdom: A passport indicating that the bearer is a British Subject, British Dependent Territories Citizen, British Overseas Citizen, British National (Overseas) Citizen, or British Protected Person does not qualify for travel without a visa. A passport which states holder has Right of Abode or indefinite leave to remain in the United Kingdom does not qualify for visa free travel.
To qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, you must:
- intend to enter the U.S. for 90 days or less for business or pleasure;
- carry a passport that is machine-readable and valid for six months beyond your intended visit unless the applicant's country is part of the "Six Month Club" (visit the Customs and Border Protection website to ensure you are viewing the most recent version of the "Six Month Club" list);
- if your passport was issued between October 26, 2005 and October 26, 2006, have a passport containing a digitized photograph of yourself;
- if your passport was issued after October 26, 2006, have an e-passport -- that is, you must have a passport that includes an integrated computer chip;
- be a national of the VWP country that issued your passport;
- be cleared by the ESTA system;
- have a return trip ticket (Note: This requirement is waived in the case of travelers arriving at a land border.);
- not pose a safety threat to the United States;
- not have failed to comply with the conditions of any previous admission under the visa waiver program;
- convince the examining immigration officer that you are clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted and that you are not inadmissible under section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act; and
- waive any right to challenge an immigration officer's decision as to your admissibility, other than on the basis of an application for asylum.
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers are required to obtain a travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP. (Note: Canadian citizens are exempt from this requirement.) More information on ESTA is available from our Consular section.
Starting 8 September 2010, the Department of Homeland Security began requiring travelers from the Visa Waiver Program countries to pay operational and travel promotion fees when applying for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The new fee will be $14.00 USD and may be paid through the following credit cards: MasterCard, Visa, American Express, and Discover. Payments may also be made with a debit card that holds the Visa or MasterCard symbol. You are not required to re-register when the new fees go into effect if you already have a valid ESTA.
For additional information on ESTA, please consult this DHS FAQ.
When To Apply For A Visa
Citizen of VWP countries who intend to visit the United States for more than 90 days must obtain a non-immigrant visa before arriving at the U.S. port of entry. To find out more about acquiring a non-immigrant visa or to schedule a visa appointment, please visit the U.S. Visa Service website.
Additionally, under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the U.S. Immigration officers may refuse entry to citizens of a VWP country under certain circumstances. For more information about the general classes of persons who may be found ineligible for admission to the United States, please visit this page provided by the State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs.
If you believe that any grounds of inadmissibility may apply to you, you should apply for a non-immigrant visa.
The Arrival/Departure Form
Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) shows the date you arrived in the United States and the "Admitted Until" date, the date when your authorized period of stay expires. You will receive a Form I-94 from a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services inspector when arriving in the United States at a port of entry. The form must be completed and presented to a USCIS inspector who may ask you questions about the purpose of your trip, how long you will be in the United States, and your residence abroad. When you leave the country, you should give your Form I-94 to your airline.
For more information on the Arrival-Departure Form -- including how to return your Form should you leave by land or sea -- please consult this guide.
Re-admission to the U.S.
Generally, VWP applicants admitted under the VWP 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.