Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

DHS Adds Countries to Visa Waiver Program; CBP Requires Travel Authorization

Effective November 17, 2008, the Department of Homeland Security has added the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic to the list of countries authorized to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

Citizens and eligible nationals of VWP countries may apply for admission at a U.S. port of entry as nonimmigrants for up to 90 days for business or pleasure without obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, provided that they are otherwise eligible for admission under applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. The designated countries in the VWP include Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom (defined for VWP purposes as England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man).

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) also announced on November 13, 2008, that beginning January 12, 2009, all VWP nonimmigrants traveling to the U.S. must obtain an approved travel authorization from the Department’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (Site: ESTA). To comply with ESTA, VWP travelers must provide electronically to CBP the information currently collected on the I-94W Nonimmigrant Alien Arrival/Departure (Form I-94W) through the CBP ESTA Web site and receive authorization to travel before embarking on travel to the U.S.

The final rule adding the VWP countries is available as a PDF. The CBP notice about obtaining travel authorization is available here.

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Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.