What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of 37 participating countries* to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days of less without obtaining a visa. Nationals of VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel without a visa on VWP, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel, are screened at the port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.
Citizens of the following countries may qualify to participate in the VWP: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan*, and the United Kingdom.
Travelers wishing to participate in the VWP must meet the following requirements:
- He/she must travel on a valid, full-validity, machine-readable or e-passport with an electronic chip.
- The trip must be business, pleasure or transit and last less than 90 days. Visa-free travel does not include those who plan to study, work or remain in the United States for more than 90 days.
- He/she must not be ineligible to receive a visa under U.S. visa law. Travelers who have been arrested, even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction, those with criminal records, certain serious communicable illnesses, those who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from, the United States, or have previously overstayed on the VWP are not eligible to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
* With respect to all references to “country” or “countries” on this page, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.