What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program is a program between certain countries that allows citizens and nationals of those countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business. You are allowed to be in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program for a period of 90 days or less without having to apply for a visa.
Who Qualifies for the Visa Waiver Program?
In order to qualify for this program, you must obtain a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to traveling. In addition to obtaining an ESTA, you must meet the following requirements depending on if you are traveling for business or tourism:
If traveling for business you must:
- Consult with business associates,
- Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference,
- Attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay), and
- Negotiate a contract.
If traveling for tourism purposes you must do one of these:
- Be here for vacation,
- Visit with relatives or friends,
- Medical treatment,
- Participate in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations,
- Participate as an amateur in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating,
- Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree.
What Documents are required when applying for the Visa Waiver Program?
In order to qualify for this program, you must obtain a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization. In order to obtain an ESTA, you will need the following:
- Valid passport from a Visa Waiver Program country,
- Valid credit card or PayPal to pay the US $14 per application,
- Your contact information, and
- Your most recent employment information, if applicable.
You will not be eligible to participate in this program if you have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011. There are however exceptions to this program if you have an emergency. If so, the U.S. Embassy and Consulate might make an exception.
When applying for the Visa Waiver Program, it is important to seek the help of an immigration attorney because they will be able to properly assist you with the classification for which you are applying. More importantly, it is important to see an attorney if you qualify as one of the groups of people who do not qualify for this program. They may be able to help show your case in a way to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as to why you should be eligible for this program.
To schedule a consultation with an attorney at American Visa Law Group, feel free to click the contact us tab and fill out the inquiry form or call us at (510) 500-1155.