What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa waiver Program was set up in 2007 by the United States government to allow citizens of ‘friendly nations’ to enter the United States without the need for a Visa. The Visa Waiver Program allows those who are eligible for it to visit the United States for Tourism or Business Purpose for 90 days. It is not guaranteed and it does not allow visitors to work when they come to the United States.

Visa Waiver program

Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program?

38 Countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program and as you can see from the list Most EU countries are included as well the likes of Chile, Australia and a few countries in Asia.

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

What is ESTA and how does it relate to the Visa Waiver Program?

Those that wish to visit the United States of America from countries in the VWP, will first have to go through the ESTA Visa USA Authentication process. The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation is a Preauthorisation check that determines citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries their eligibility to enter the United States. What it is not is a visa.

How does ESTA migrate security risks?

ESTA helps lower security risks by determining the eligibility of each individual from applying through the Visa Waiver Program on a personal basis. Those who have been convicted for committing serious crimes such as rape and murder, those who could have been involved in Terrorism and those with communicable diseases are flagged up through the ESTA applications. Risks are not taken and those who are denied their ESTA’s will not be able to reverse the decision for the protection of the country and citizens of the United States of America.

Advanced legislation is used to fairly judge whether one should be able to access the United States of America and whether any risk is involved. While ESTA gives preauthorisation for individuals to enter the United States of America they will be checked again at the airport. If suspicions are raised for whatever reason then these individuals can still be denied entry to the United States of America despite having an ESTA. This affectively means that ESTA adds another level of security to the mix.

What are the passport requirements to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?

ESTA Approval allows an individual to take multiple trips to the United States of America in a 2 year period. Therefore anyone applying for ESTA should have a passport that has at least two years remaining left.

Since the first of April 2016, only E-Passports have been accepted to use the Visa Waiver Program. These E-Passports must be up to date, in good condition and meet international e-passport standards.

Do you have a communicable disease?

Individuals with communicable diseases are not allowed to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program. HIV was listed as a communicable disease under the rules however it has since been removed. Therefore those who apply for ESTA no longer need to mark that they have a communicable disease when filling out their forms.