Starting 21 January 2016, there are new changes to the Visa Waiver Program that may affect some travelers, especially those who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen since March 1, 2011. For more information, please see Press Releases from January 21 (PDF 204 KB) and February 18 (PDF 262 KB). You may also find answers to frequently asked questions here.
Individuals from certain countries are able to travel to the United States without a visa. Under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), qualified citizens of 36 countries may enter the United States without a visa for the purposes of tourism, business, or in transit. Countries currently authorized to participate in the VWP are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an online system that is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). ESTA is mandatory for all nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure. Under the VWP, all such travelers must receive an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or cruise ship.
ESTA will determine, almost immediately in many cases, if an individual is eligible for VWP travel, and if such travel poses any law enforcement or security risks. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first. Authorizations will also be valid for multiple entries into the United States. In order to facilitate the authorization process, the Department of Homeland Security recommends that ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins planning U.S.-bound travel, and not less than 72 hours prior to travel.
You can travel without a visa if you meet ALL of the following requirements:
- You are a citizen of one of the countries named above, traveling on a valid, machine-readable passport. Citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Korea, the Slovak Republic, Malta and Greece need an electronic passport containing an integrated chip (e-passport). Beginning 1 April 2016, you must have an e-passport to be eligible for the VWP. E-passports are enhanced secure passports with an embedded electronic chip.
- Traveling for business, pleasure or transit only;
- Staying in the United States for 90 days or fewer;
- Holding a return or onward ticket;
- If you are entering by air or sea, you must be traveling aboard a carrier that has greed to participate in the program (PDF 218 KB document from CBP website).
- If you are entering by air or sea, you have obtained ESTA approval.
- If you are entering by land across the Canadian or Mexican border, you must complete an I-94W form and pay a $6.00 fee, payable only in U.S. dollars.
Important Reminder for All Visa Waiver Travelers
You cannot travel under the Visa Waiver Program if you plan to study, work, or remain more than 90 days in the United States.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if my passport is okay for Visa Waiver travel?
All Slovene citizens who want to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, including children, must have machine-readable passports. If the passport was issued or the validity was extended between October 26, 2005, and October 25, 2006, then the passport must also contain a digital photograph. If the passport was issued or the validity was extended on or after October 26, 2006, then the passport must also include an integrated circuit chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph, and other biometric information. Official and diplomatic passports are exempt from digital photograph and electronic chip requirements, but must be machine-readable.
How do I know if I have a machine-readable passport?
Machine-readable passports allow data in the passport to be scanned automatically by a machine. There are two lines of letters, numbers and’>>>>’s printed at the bottom of the page containing your photograph and personal details. If you are in any doubt as to whether your passport is machine-readable, you should check with the officials who issued your passport.
How do I know if my passport contains a digital photograph?
If your photograph is printed on the passport page along with your biographical information, rather than glued or laminated onto the page, it is considered a digitalized photograph.
What if my passport is not machine-readable or does not have a digital photo?
If you do not have a machine-readable passport, then you will be required to apply for a visa. Alternatively, if you wish to travel visa-free, you will need to obtain a new passport which is machine-readable.
How do I know if my passport is okay for Visa Waiver travel?
Beginning 1 April 2016, all Slovene citizens who want to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, including children, must have e-passports. E-passports include an integrated circuit chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, a digitized photograph, and other biometric information.
I have seen other websites offer to apply on my behalf. Will this help me receive my authorization more quickly?
No. Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite approval. Third party websites that provide information about ESTA and submit ESTA applications for VWP travelers are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the U.S. government. If the website does not end in “.gov,” it is not the official ESTA website.
Which individuals are NOT eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?
If you have been arrested — even if the arrest did not result in a criminal conviction – or if you have a criminal record, a serious communicable disease or if you have ever been refused admission into, or have been deported from the United States, you are ineligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. Also, if you ever previously overstayed on the Visa Waiver Program, even by only one day, you are not eligible to participate in this program. Finally, if you are planning to work, study, stay more than 90 days, or live permanently in the U.S., you cannot enter under the Visa Waiver Program. If you meet any of those criteria and attempt to fly to the States without having a visa in your passport, you will be refused entry into the United States.