The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program that allows visitors from certain countries to enter the United States (US) for up to 90 days without a visa. The program was established in 1986 with the aim of promoting business and tourism in the US. Currently, there are 39 countries that participate in the program, and millions of travelers take advantage of it every year.
The Visa Waiver Program is constantly evolving, and there have been a number of changes since its inception. This article will explore the history of the program, how it works, its benefits and drawbacks, and recent updates to the program.
History of the Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program was first established in 1986 as a pilot program with the goal of increasing tourism to the US. Initially, it only applied to visitors from eleven countries, including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The program was made permanent two years later, and the number of participating countries gradually increased over the years.
The program was seen as a success, with millions of visitors taking advantage of the visa waiver every year. Over time, however, concerns began to arise about the security implications of allowing visitors from certain countries to enter the US without a visa. These concerns came to a head in 2016 with the passing of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which made a number of changes to the program.
How the Visa Waiver Program Works
The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to enter the US for up to 90 days without a visa. Visitors must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval before traveling to the US, and they must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their intended stay.
To apply for ESTA approval, visitors must complete an online application form and pay a fee of $14. The application must be submitted at least 72 hours before the visitor plans to travel, although it is recommended that it be submitted as early as possible.
Once the visitor arrives in the US, they must go through the same customs and immigration procedures as visitors with a visa. Visitors may be asked to provide evidence of their travel plans, such as a return ticket, and they may be questioned about their intentions for their visit.
Benefits and Drawbacks of the Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program has many benefits for visitors and for the US economy. One of the biggest advantages is that it makes it easier for tourists and business people to travel to the US without the hassle of applying for a visa. This can save time and money, and it can make the US a more attractive destination for travelers.
The program also has economic benefits, as visitors who come to the US may spend money on hotels, restaurants, and other goods and services. This can create jobs and stimulate local economies.
However, there are also drawbacks to the Visa Waiver Program. One concern is that it may make it easier for terrorists or other criminals to enter the US. There have been cases in the past of individuals who have taken advantage of the program to enter the US and commit crimes or carry out acts of terrorism.
Another concern is that the program may make it harder for visitors from certain countries to enter the US. The Visa Waiver Program is currently only available to citizens of certain countries, and visitors from other countries must apply for a visa. This can create a perception that some visitors are more welcome in the US than others.
Recent Updates to the Visa Waiver Program
The Visa Waiver Program has undergone a number of changes in recent years, particularly in response to concerns about security. In 2016, the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act was passed, which made a number of changes to the program.
One of the most significant changes was the requirement that all visitors to the US must have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond their intended stay. This was already a requirement for travelers with a visa, but it had not previously applied to visitors using the visa waiver.
Another change was the addition of new eligibility requirements for the Visa Waiver Program. Under the new rules, travelers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria since March 2011 are no longer eligible for the program. This restriction is aimed at preventing potential terrorists from using the visa waiver to enter the US.
In addition to these changes, the US has also taken steps to increase security measures for visitors using the visa waiver. For example, the Department of Homeland Security now has more resources to screen visitors before they arrive in the US, and there are increased checks on travelers who are considered high risk.
The Visa Waiver Program is an important program that allows visitors from certain countries to enter the US without a visa. While the program has many benefits, such as promoting tourism and economic growth, it also has its drawbacks, such as concerns about security and perceptions of inequality.
Recent changes to the Visa Waiver Program have been aimed at addressing these concerns, and the program continues to evolve in response to changing security threats and economic conditions. As such, it is likely that we will see further updates to the program in the years to come.
The Visa Waiver Program (also known as the VWP) is a federally run program of the United States which awards citizens of specific countries the ability to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without a typically required visa. Those who obtain visa waivers are allowed to travel and reside in the United States, for business or tourism, without having to obtain a form of citizenship. The Visa Waiver Program must be followed by all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Those citizens that are granted visa waivers, are typically from developed countries with high-income economies. In addition, the permissible countries for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program typically possess a high Human development Index, meaning they are regarded as advanced nations with similar societal frameworks as the United States.
The following list demonstrates which countries (in Europe) are accepted under the Federal Visa Waiver Program:
Andora, Austria, Belgium, Czech, Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland;The British Colonies within the United Kingdom
The Visa Waiver Program primarily extends benefits or privledges to those advanced countries in Europe, however, six additional countries are awarded the ability to travel for up to 90 days without the inclusion of a visa. The United States’ Federal Visa Waver Program awards the underlying privileges to the citizens of the following Oceanic and Asian countries:Brunei, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand.
Visa Waivers for citizens of the aforementioned nations offer simplicity and ease for a traveler. To be eligible for the Visa Waver program an applicant must submit an application through the Department of Homeland Security’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a fully automated system that screens passengers before they travel with Visa Waivers. In order to travel without a visa, an individual from one of the above countries must submit an ESTA application before they embark on the united States.
Those using Visa Waivers to travel are strongly encouraged to apply for authorization once their trip to the United States is planned. Federal law, through an amendment passed on January 12, 2009, requires that all individuals traveling via a Visa Waiver must obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization before traveling to the United States. To obtain an application an individual must contact their local government agency or locality to inquire about the country’s specific regulations and requirements associated with the participation in the Visa Waiver Program.