Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
Overview of the Visa Waiver Program
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa. One exception is the Visa Waiver Program, which allows citizens from certain countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without a visa for tourism or business.
With the Visa Waiver Program, you are allowed to visit the United States for business or pleasure. Some of the activities permitted as a business visitor include:
Some of the activities permitted as a visitors for pleasure include:
Foreign nationals planning to travel to the United States for a different purpose such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, or journalists must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category.
Representatives of the foreign press, radio, film, journalists or other information media, engaging in that vocation while in the United States, require a nonimmigrant media visa (called an I visa). Foreign press cannot travel to the United States using a visitor visa or under the visa waiver program.
Visa are also required for individuals who:
Currently, 27 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program. VWP participating countries are:
Visa Waiver Program - Participating Countries
*Countries marked with an * require a machine-readable passport to use the Visa Waiver Program, starting on October 1, 2003. See below for more information.
A machine readable passport has biographical data entered on the data page that is able to be read by a computer and meets international specifications. If there are questions about your passport, you may want to contact the agency that issues passports in your country of citizenship.
The State Department will require all travelers under the Visa Waiver Program to have a machine readable passport by October 26, 2004. After October 1, 2003, citizens of Belgium, Andorra, Brunei, Leichtenstein, and Slovenia who wish to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must present either a machine-readable passport (MRP) or a U.S. visa at the port of entry to enter the United States.
If you do not have a machine-readable passport, you will need to obtain a U.S. visa.
Families seeking to enter the United States under the VWP need to obtain an individual passport for each traveler, including infants. Machine-readable passports typically have biographical data for only one traveler in the machine-readable zone. Based on this, families may be denied visa-free entry into the United States if the biographical data for only one traveler is machine-readable.
To enter the United States under the VWP, travelers from participating countries must:
Entry at a land border crossing point from Canada or Mexico is permitted under the Visa Waiver Program.
There is a $6 fee for the Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94W from airlines.
Citizens of Canada generally do not require a visa. Canada is not part of the visa waiver program, as the authorization for Canadian citizens to travel visa-free comes from other immigration laws. The machine-readable passport requirement does not apply to Canadian citizens.
Extensions of Stay Unavailable
Visitors using the Visa Waiver Program are not eligible for extensions of
stay, or changes of status to another nonimmigrant or immigrant category.
To maintain your status, you must leave the United States before the date shown
on your I-94 card.