February 15, 2016

Visa Waiver Program

Requirements for using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less. This is only if they they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

If you are eligible to travel on the VWP, but prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa. Transiting or traveling through the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers.

An example of the new required E-Passports for the Visa Waiver Program

An example of the new required E-Passports

The following are examples of activities permitted while in the United States on the VWP

  • Consult with business associates
  • Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
  • Attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
  • Negotiate a contract
  • Tourism
  • Vacation (holiday)
  • Visit with friends or relatives
  • Medical treatment
  • Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
    enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

These are some examples of activities not permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:

  • Study, but only for credit
  • Employment
  • Work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • Permanent residence in the United States

For more information on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) visit the U.S. State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs’ website, or contact us directly for a consultation with an immigration professional.

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