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The Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of select countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for visitor (B) visa purposes for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible persons may apply for a visa, if they prefer to have a visa. Not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the Visa Waiver Program. If a foreign national has a criminal record or other condition making them ineligible for a visa or has violated the terms of the VWP previously, the foreign national will be unable to use the VWP. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), are screened at their port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program.

35 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program. These countries are:

  1. Andorra
  2. Australia
  3. Austria
  4. Belgium
  5. Brunei
  6. Czech Republic
  7. Denmark
  8. Estonia
  9. Finland
  10. France
  11. Germany
  12. Hungary
  13. Iceland
  14. Ireland
  15. Italy
  16. Japan
  17. Latvia
  18. Liechtenstein
  19. Lithuania
  20. Luxembourg
  21. Malta
  22. Monaco
  23. The Netherlands
  24. New Zealand
  25. Norway
  26. Portugal
  27. San Marino
  28. Singapore
  29. Slovakia
  30. Slovenia
  31. South Korea
  32. Spain
  33. Sweden
  34. Switzerland
  35. United Kingdom

Nationals of the 35 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program may use VWP if they have received an authorization to travel using the VWP through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization; they have a passport valid for six months past their expected stay in the United States, unless a country specific agreement provides for an exception; the purpose of the foreign national’s stay in the United States is for 90 days or less of tourism or business; and the foreign national on the VWP has a return trip ticket to a foreign destination and they must demonstrate intent to stay 90 days or less in the United States and sufficient funds to support his or her stay in the United States.

Work or study on the VWP is not permitted nor may foreign media representatives use it. VWP participants who have been admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and who make a short trip to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island usually can be readmitted to the United States under the VWP for the remainder of his or her original admission period. Foreign nationals who overstay the VWP program 90 day period of admission are subject to detention and are not entitled to bond or a hearing before an immigration judge. It is imperative that an immigration attorney be consulted in VWP overstay situations, May Law Group, LLC, has the experience and expertise to deal with visa waiver overstays.

If a foreign national enters on the VWP, the foreign national may not change status or extend his or her stay in the United States. However, if a foreign national enters on the VWP and later decides to marry a United States citizen, he or she may then file for permanent residence without leaving the United States. The immigration attorneys at May Law Group, LLC, have successfully completed adjustment of status applications for many visa waiver overstays. These clients have all received their permanent residence cards after successful completion of their marriage based immigration cases. Please call 412-291-4400 (Pittsburgh) or 215-880-4977 (Philadelphia) for a free consultation on a visa waiver overstay or visa waiver entry immigration case.

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