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Recent Changes to Visa Waiver Program

Recently, President George Bush announced the inclusion of seven new countries to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) -  the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Republic of Korea and the Slovak Republic.  Since the announcement, however, travelers from these countries have not been able to take advantage of the VWP, as the United States government has been in the process of completing required internal steps before the VWP expansion can be completed.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, nationals from these countries may begin traveling to the U.S. through the VWP beginning on November 17, 2008.  These travelers must possess a biometric passport and register through the newly implemented Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Under the VWP, nationals from certain designated countries are permitted to enter the U.S. without a visa if they wish to engage in tourist and business travel for less than 90 days.  ESTA is an automated online system to screen passengers before they travel to the U.S. under the VWP.  For the existing VWP countries, travelers will be required to register through ESTA beginning on January 12, 2009.  Currently, this program is voluntary.  All VWP travelers must present machine readable passports.  Furthermore, depending on when the passport was issued, other requirements may apply.

Currently, the following countries are participants in the Visa Waiver Program:

Andorra
Australia
Belgium
Brunei
Denmark
Finland
France
Germany
Iceland
Ireland
Italy
Japan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Monaco
Netherlands
New Zealand
Norway
Portugal
San Marino
Singapore
Slovenia
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
United Kingdom