October 2, 2012

Taiwan Becomes Eligible for Visa Waiver Program

On October 2, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows travel to the U.S. without a visa for eligible individuals seeking to visit the U.S. for business or tourism for a period of up to 90 days. VWP travelers are required to apply for advanced authorization through a web-based system called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

There are currently 36 other countries eligible under the VWP, and the VWP accounted for more than 60 percent of tourist and business travelers to the U.S. in FY2011. Records show that 243,186 visitors from Taiwan traveled to the U.S. in FY2011. Effective November 1, 2012, eligible tourist or business travelers from Taiwan with an approved ESTA will be allowed to enter the U.S. on the VWP.

December 2, 2010

Report on Visa Waiver Program

The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently issued a report on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) which allows foreign visitors from certain countries to enter the U.S. without obtaining a visa. To participate in the VWP, a country must offer reciprocal privileges to U.S. citizens and its participation in the VWP may help promote better international relations, tourism and commerce, and lighten consular caseloads. To date, 36 countries participate in the VWP, including Australia, Japan, and the UK, to name a few. In FY2009, 16.2 million visitors entered the U.S. under the VWP, accounting for 50.5% of all foreign visitors. For the CRS’s full report on the VWP, including issues of security, adding countries to the VWP, lost and stolen passports, overstays, etc, see http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/homesec/RL32221.pdf.

January 26, 2010

Visa Waiver Program Travelers Must Complete Online Application

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reminds U.S.-bound travelers from visa waiver program (VWP) countries that they must obtain an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before boarding a plane or ship headed to the U.S. ESTA has been mandatory since Jan. 12, 2009 and does not affect U.S. citizens returning from overseas or citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid U.S. visa. ESTA applications are submitted online at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/ and are generally valid for up to 2 years with multiple entries permitted. A relative, friend, or travel agent may submit an application for a VWP traveler. The ESTA website is currently available in 21 languages.