An Excellent summary of Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

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In coordination with the State Department, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), operated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), allows citizens of 39 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of up to ninety (90) days without a visa. In return, those 39 countries must allow U.S. residents and nationals to fly to their countries for a comparable period without a business or tourism visa. Travelers from VWP pumped approximately $231 million per day into local economies across the nation. DHS is constantly tailoring VWP to counter emerging threats. DHS implemented many new security changes to the VWP in August 2015, including expanded traveler screening, information sharing, and other security provisions for VWP countries to counter the threat posed by international terrorist fighters. The Visa Waiver Program is a comprehensive security arrangement that facilitates safe travel to the United States while promoting travel to VWP partner nations for Americans as well. DHS will continue to intensify its efforts to ensure VWP provides the American people with stability and prosperity. 

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What is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

The US Congress established the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 1986. The purpose of the programme was to encourage more business or tourist travellers in the short term, as well as to reduce the pressure on local U.S. resources of the State Department in handling applications for tourist visas.

How come a country becomes a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

A country must meet different criteria in the Visa Waiver Program to be eligible for approval. Requirements include, but not restricted to:

  • Countries which may be treated as a sovereign state.
  • Countries with a high score for the Human Development Index (HDI).
  • Countries that share security data with the US.
  • Countries that are classified to have high-income economies.
  • Countries with a reduced rate of passport fraud and countries which monitor missing or stolen passports.
  • Countries with strong passport protection requirements by using electronic biometric passports.
  • Countries with strong passenger protection requirements by using electronic biometric passports.
  • Countries with a low rejection rate for non-immigrant visas.
  • Countries that have recognized counter-terrorism, enforcement agencies, border security, and other security-focused agencies are aiming to curb domestic crime and terrorism.

What are the countries under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

Countries under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are:

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

What do the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) nationals need to do when they visit the USA?

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) people would need an authorized ESTA, or Electronic Travel Authorization System, to enter the United States for short-term tourism, business, transportation, or medical purposes. ESTA was developed in 2008 with the goal of processing online travel authorization applications for people of VWP countries electronically. By uploading an application online, U.S. Homeland Security Department (DHS) will pre-screen travelers against threats and no-fly lists when an application is still active in the program. Travelers would need to fulfill all the ESTA criteria required to ensure that their application is accepted.

What is the important information about ESTA?

  • An ESTA is not a visa but an exemption from visa.
  • The ESTA is needed if arriving by air or cruise ship.
  • An accepted ESTA does not guarantee admission, as the applicant’s admissibility is continuously reviewed after the ESTA is issued.
  • It can only apply to passport holders from qualifying countries.
  • For a duration of 90 days, the ESTA may be used for tourism, business, transit, medical and other purposes. The ESTA helps travelers to do business and tourism without having to apply for a visa. The ESTA is eligible for entry in all 50 U.S. states, as well as in American territories such as Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean.
  • Travelers who wish to apply for an ESTA will plan to send their applications to 72 hours prior to departure. A traveler must have his / her ESTA before reaching the United States by air or sea vessel.
  • An ESTA is valid upon acceptance for two years, or the passport expiry date, whichever date is earlier.
  • Refused ESTA applicants can still be able to enter the United States by applying a B2 Tourist Visa or a B1 Business Visa.
  • Children and infants are also expected to apply for an ESTA and have their ESTA applications accepted for travel to the USA.
  • Individuals traveling to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after 1 March 2011 or current or former dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Sudan or Syria will no longer qualify for ESTA and should consider applying for a visa to visit the United States if their ESTA is refused.
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Can I extend my stay if I enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program?

Under the Visa Waiver Program, once you enter the United States, you are not entitled to extend your stay in the United States past the initial entry period. Upon entering the United States, you must leave the United States on or before the date on your entry stamp.

How can a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) citizen apply for an ESTA?

It is quite simple to complete the request. Please follow the below steps carefully:

  1. Choose the departure and arrival country, select the required visa type, enter your name, and click ‘CLICK TO START.’
  2. Verify the visa fee and terms and conditions on the next page.
  3. On the third page, enter your basic details in the respective field and upload the necessary documents (you can upload the documents in a later stage also).
  4. After that, verify and confirm your form details, then proceed with the payment. We support all types of cards for payment.
  5. You will receive the invoice and a confirmation mail with a link in your registered email id.
  6. Click the link and complete the remaining form (you can also upload the document in this stage) and submit it for processing.
  7. Once the evisa is approved, click2visas will send your visa to your email in PDF format.
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