DHS Eliminates Paper Arrival/Departure Form for VWP Participants
On May 20, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the elimination of the paper arrival/departure form (Form I-94W) for authorized travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries. Following a seven-month pilot program on Air New Zealand flights from Auckland to Los Angeles International Airport, the use of paper I-94W forms will be eliminated for VWP travelers with an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) arriving in the U.S. at all airports by the end of this summer. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will activate automated processing for U.S. airports on a rolling basis over the next several months.
Applying for an ESTA became mandatory on January 12, 2009, for all nationals of VWP countries before boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. This requirement does not affect U.S. citizens returning from overseas or citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid U.S. visa.
CBP recommends that VWP travelers submit ESTA applications as soon as they begin making travel plans. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time before travel. ESTAs are valid for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires. CBP has received more than 19 million ESTA applications from citizens of VWP countries.