The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of up to 90 days for purposes of business, tourism, or visiting. In order to travel without a visa through the visa waiver program, an individual must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP’s) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business.
The purpose of travel must be valid under a B visa. For example, valid business reasons would include such activities as consulting with a business associate, attending a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference, attending short-term training, or negotiating a contract. Tourism reasons include vacation, visiting with friends or relatives, obtaining medical treatment, participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations, participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, or enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree.
Individuals who desire to come to the United States for other reasons, such as to study for credit, to work, or to take up permanent residence are not eligible for the visa waiver program and require specific visas to enter the country.
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Further, individuals who have previously been refused, or found ineligible for, a visa cannot travel the United States under the VWP. Additionally, individuals who have had a U.S. visa before or previously traveled to the United States under VWP or another status, must have complied with the conditions of their previous admissions to the United States. For example, an individual who traveled to the United States on a visa or under VWP and overstayed would now be ineligible for VWP.
Citizens of the following 37 countries are eligible for the visa waiver program: