The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries (there are currently 37, also mapped out here) to travel to the Unites States without a visa if they will be staying for 90 days or less and meet all requirements. Citizens of all other nations wanting to visit the U.S. for tourism must apply in advance for the U.S. visitor visa (B visa.)
When traveling under the VWP, the purpose of travel must be permitted on a Visitor (B-1 or B-2) Visa this includes business, tourism, visiting, or pleasure. For example, plans to travel to the U.S. to attend a business convention or conference, visit with friends or relatives, or pursue medical treatment could all qualify as permissible intentions under the VWP.
What kind of travel activities are not allowed under the VWP?
Pursuing study (for credit), employment, work as information media, or permanent residence in the U.S would not be permitted under the VWP and would require a work visa. For example, entering the U.S. to attend training for which you are being paid or enrolling in classes that count as credit towards your formal education would not be allowed under the VWP.
What are some requirements that need to be met to be eligible under the VWP?
VWP travelers must be from one of the 37 participating countries and must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to traveling in the U.S. The travel must be carried out on an approved air or sea carrier, and a round trip ticket must be in possession. The traveler cannot have prior visa denials or ineligibilities and must have a record of complying with U.S. admissions policies. The traveler’s passport must also meet certain requirements in order to be VWP eligible.
Can I travel to Canada or Mexico if I am in the U.S. as a VWP traveler?
Short trips to Canada or Mexico while in the U.S. under the VWP are generally permitted. The length of time of a total stay, including such a short trip, must be 90 days or less.
Where can I find more information about the Visa Waiver Program?
Detailed information about admissions and entry to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program can be found on the Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection website.
If you’re looking to engage in more activities than just those permitted under the VWP, VISANOW can help you process your U.S. non-immigrant visa. Check out our U.S. Work Visas informational page! And if you have other questions, feel free to contact us.