Since 2009, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries have been required by law to obtain a travel authorization prior to initiating travel to the United States under the VWP. This authorization may be obtained online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA™), administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a U.S. government Web site.
On March 4, 2010, President Obama signed into law the Travel Promotion Act (TPA) of 2009, Pub. L. No. 111-145. The Act directs the Secretary of Homeland Security to establish a fee for the use of the ESTA system, comprised of $10.00 for each VWP applicant receiving authorization to travel to the United States and $4.00 for the processing of the ESTA application.
Implementation of Changes to the Visa Waiver Program
Updates to the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015
Release Date: February 18, 2016
The Director of National Intelligence and the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Homeland Security has determined that Libya, Somalia, and Yemen be included as countries of concern, specifically for individuals who have traveled to these countries since March 1, 2011.
Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015
Release Date: January 21, 2016
Under the Act, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011.
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
As of October 26, 2004, all citizens of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who wish to enter the U.S. visa-free must present a machine-readable passport (MRP).
VWP nationals who do not have MRPs must obtain a U.S. non-immigrant visa. One-time exceptions are no longer granted!
This change affects only visa waiver travel. Applicants for visas at U.S. consular sections are not required to obtain MRPs, regardless of the category of visa being sought.
This change includes all categories of passports-- tourist, diplomatic, and official. Bearers of diplomatic and official passports that are not machine-readable will need visas beginning October 26, 2004.
Families and groups should obtain an individual passport for each traveler, including infants. MRPs typically have biodata for only one traveler in the machine-readable zone (MRZ), and families may be denied visa-free entry into the U.S. if the biodata for only one traveler is machine-readable.
Additionally, all passports issued on or after October 26, 2006 must be biometric (e-passports). You will not be required to have a biometric passport to travel on the waiver if your passport has been issued prior to that date (it still must be a MRP), but you will have to have a biometric passport if it is issued on or after that date. For more detailed information please visit the U.S. Department of State Visa Waiver Program page.
PLEASE ALSO NOTE:
Many people believe that there is just one waiver status. This is not the case. In order for KITP to reimburse you, you must obtain a W-B status when you enter the U.S. If you do not ask for the Waiver for Business and come here with a waiver for tourism (W-T) you will not be able to get reimbursed. Please check your passport when it is marked as it is difficult to apply for a change at a later date.