Passport & Consular Services

What is visa waiver program?

A Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program established by certain countries that allows eligible travelers from specific countries to visit for tourism, business, or transit purposes without obtaining a traditional visa. Under the VWP, travelers can enter the country for a limited duration without a visa, provided they meet certain criteria and comply with the program’s requirements.

The primary purpose of a Visa Waiver Program is to promote tourism, business, and cultural exchanges between participating countries while maintaining appropriate security measures. It simplifies the travel process for eligible individuals by eliminating the need to apply for a visa, pay visa fees, and attend visa interviews.

To benefit from a Visa Waiver Program, travelers must meet the following general requirements:

Citizenship: The traveler must be a citizen or national of a country participating in the Visa Waiver Program.

Valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA): Prior to traveling, eligible travelers must apply for and obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an online system that screens travelers before their departure to the country. It collects basic information about the traveler, including personal and passport details, travel itinerary, and background information.

Maximum Stay Limit: The Visa Waiver Program allows for a specific maximum duration of stay, typically up to 90 days per visit. It’s important to adhere to this limit and not overstay the authorized period.

Purpose of Visit: The traveler must visit the participating country for tourism, business, or transit purposes only. Engaging in any form of employment or long-term study is generally not permitted under the Visa Waiver Program.

Compliance with Entry Requirements: The traveler must meet all entry requirements, such as having a valid passport, having a return or onward ticket, and demonstrating sufficient funds to cover their stay.

It’s crucial to note that the specific rules and requirements of each country’s Visa Waiver Program may vary. It’s advisable to check the official website of the embassy or consulate of the country you plan to visit to understand the eligibility criteria, application process, and any additional conditions associated with their specific Visa Waiver Program.

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