Monday 24th October 2016                 Change text size:

A Look at the 38 Countries in the USA’s Visa Programme

US flag By Sean Winters via Flickr

When it comes to the USA visa waiver program, only 38 member countries are included in the list that allows citizens to apply for a visa waiver when they’re travelling to the USA for business or tourism purposes. Travellers are only allowed to come for 90-days consecutively, but the ESTA visa is valid for two years before a reapplication is needed.

What Does The Visa Waiver Program Do?

The visa waiver program, also known as an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), allows citizens of certain countries from a select 38 depicted by the Department of Home Security, to enter the USA without having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a visa. The visa waiver program is a much easier, and more efficient way to travel to the USA, for business or tourism purposes, and offers an alternative to the long interview-based process of travelling to the USA. The process was introduced by the Department for Homeland Security in 2008 as a way to secure travel to citizens and increase their own security. It helps filter out people from the authorisation process that do not meet the required security standards, but some countries have preference over others, for security reasons.

Which Countries Are Member Countries?

The member countries of the USA visa waiver program include many from Europe, New Zealand, Australia, Chile, Taiwan, Brunei, South Korea, Japan and Singapore. The European countries that are included in the list are Andorra, France, Austria, the United Kingdom, Liechtenstein, San Marino, the Republic of Malta, Germany, Lithuania, Czech Republic, Greece, Luxembourg, Hungary, Denmark, Slovenia, Monaco, Netherlands, Iceland, Ireland, Spain, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Portugal, Switzerland, Latvia, Finland, Slovakia and Belgium. These countries are deemed to be safer and are allowed entry to the USA with just a US ESTA visa waiver, rather than having to go through the entire visa process. Not only does this speed things up for the security in the USA, although an ESTA does not guarantee entry at the USA port of entry, it will allow visitors into the country as long as they get through the security checks on the other side.

The Difference Between A Visa Waiver & A Full Visa

The ESTA visa waiver is not a full visa, and it is to be used only for a traveller. A true visa, depending on which type, will allow a person to either travel, reside or work in the USA. However, the visa waiver can only be used for someone looking to travel for just 90 days in the country, rather than working and living there. Those who already hold a valid US visa will not need to apply for an ESTA, even when they leave the United States for as long as their visa is valid. Children will also need a valid ESTA as well as adults, or a visitor visa depending on whether they are a citizen of a member state or not. The border officers will have the information whether or not you have an ESTA visa when you arrive in the US and if you do not, then you may not gain entry to the country – unless you already have a true visa.



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