Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain participating countries to travel to US without a Visa for a short business or tourist trip of 90 days or less. Certain criteria need to be fulfilled by the participating countries in order to qualify for the VWP
Not all countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Nationals of participating VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel to US without a visa. VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel. They are screened at the port of entry in United States, and are assigned to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) program.
List of Counties Participating in Visa Waiver Program
Currently, 36 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Nationals of these 36 countries can travel to the United States for a stay of 90 days or less without applying for visas, provided the purpose of travel is tourism or business.
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Visa Waiver Requirements
Applicant must hold a machine readable passports as of June 26th, 2005.
Passport must be valid at least 6 months from the expected day of departure from the United States.
Applicant has complied with the conditions of previous admissions under the Visa Waiver Program and has not been disqualified for a US visa.
Applicant arrives by an approved carrier (by sea or air). Most major airlines and cruise ships are approved carriers.
The applicants have return ticket to their home country or any other country besides US or any of its adjacent islands.
If the applicants plan to arrive to US by land then they must demonstrate their intention to stay 90 days or less in the United States, and also show that they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their stay in US.
Travelers who have been admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and who make a short trip to Mexico, Canada, or other adjacent islands, can reenter U.S. under the VWP for the approved admission period.
*New passports issued by Visa Waiver Program countries must include a digital photo, otherwise the traveler will be required to get a visa. A digital photo is printed on the page and not glued or laminated to the passport. If a passport does not have this feature, then the applicants can still travel without a visa if their passport was issued before October 26, 2005 which is machine-readable. Or if they have an "e-Passport" that includes an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographical information from the data page, a digitalized photograph, and other biometric information. (All passports issued after October 26, 2006 from the VWP participating countries are e-Passports).
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A machine-readable passport has certain biographical data entered on the data page and follows the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Doc 9303, Part1 Machine-Readable Passports. These standards address issues such as the size of the passport and photograph, arrangement of data fields, and the two lines of printed machine-readable data that appear at the bottom of the page. Machine-readable passports can be read by scanning the two lines of printed data through special readers. Below is an example of how the biographical data page in a machine-readable passport might look:
Travelers should contact their country’s passport issuing agency or authority if they have any doubts related to whether their passport is machine-readable.
e-Passport (or biometric passport)
An e-Passport incorporates data related to an individual's identity; current ICAO guidelines call for e-Passports to include facial recognition data. The contours of individuals' faces are digitally mapped and stored on the chip so that a comparison of facial data for the bearer of the passport and the facial data of the person to whom the passport was issued can be made. You can readily identify an e-Passport, because it has a unique international symbol on the cover.
For more detailed information on Visa Waiver Program:
>Dept of state website Untied States Bureau of Consular Affairs
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Form I-94W, Arrival/Departure Record for VWP Travelers
All travelers entering into the United States under the Visa Waiver Pprogram must complete and submit Form I-94W (green form) at Point of Entry (POE).
It is the applicant’s responsibility to make sure the transportation carriers collects the applicant’s departure portion of the Form I-94W on their departure.
Sample I-94W (Green Form)
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