What is the Visa Waiver Program?
Under U.S. immigration law, the Visa Waiver Program offers the opportunity to visit the U.S. with fewer security requirements. Nationals of eligible countries traveling to the U.S. can stay up to 90 days without a visa. To do so, they must obtain an ESTA. It is necessary to meet the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program to obtain an ESTA.
Who is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program that allows travelers from partner countries to visit the U.S. without having to obtain an official visa from the U.S. Embassy.
The VWP does not provide for the possibility of extending or changing the traveler’s immigration status: 90 days after the date of entry, the traveler must leave the territory.
Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia (since 2021), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, United Kingdom
Any national of these countries can benefit from the VWP if their trip is for tourism or business purposes.
In the context of a business trip, the ESTA authorization allows you to :
- Participate in meetings;
- Conduct negotiations or sign contracts;
- Enroll in unpaid short-term training courses;
- Attend events, conventions or conferences for scientific, educational or professional purposes.
In the context of a tourist trip, the ESTA authorization allows you to :
- Travel, visit, whether you are traveling alone, with friends, or family;
- Receive medical care;
- Participate in social activities organized by social or service organizations;
- Participate at an amateur level in music or sports activities;
- Enroll in courses or studies as a hobby, provided they do not provide credit toward a university degree;
- Visit the famous American national parks.
How to benefit from the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program is a partnership between the United States and the countries listed. Under this agreement, a traveler from one of the participating countries can apply for ESTA online before traveling to the United States.
To obtain an ESTA, there are a few rules to follow before applying:
- You must have a passport that is valid for the entire duration of your trip;
- Your passport must be electronic or biometric;
- You must not stay in the country for more than 90 days;
- The airline or shipping company must be recognized and approved by the US government;
- You must not have violated U.S. law on a previous trip.
You must never have been refused a visa prior to your ESTA application.