Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver visitors must demonstrate:

  • The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business but does not entail local employment or labor for hire;
  • He or she plan to remain for a specific, limited time period;
  • He or she have clear intent to maintain a residence outside the U.S., as well as other binding ties to their home country, which will ensure they leave the U.S. at the end of the visit; and
  • He or she has adequate financial arrangements to travel to, sojourn in, and depart from the U.S.

 Eligibility

 The foreign visitor must be a citizen of one of the countries determined by the Department of Homeland Security as eligible for the Visa Waiver Program. If the foreign visitor is entering the U.S. for business, the visitor will receive WB status upon entry (eligibility same as B-1 visa).  All visitors requesting entry under the Visa Waiver Program must have a valid passport that meets passport requirements as determined by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection's Visa Waiver Program Passport Requirements. Passports, regardless of the type, must be valid for six months past the expected stay in the United States unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions. This is a requirement for all categories of passports - regular, diplomatic, and official - when the traveler is seeking to enter the United States for business or tourist purposes, for a maximum of 90 days.

Important Notice: Effective July 1, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program emergency or temporary passports must be electronic passports (e-Passports) to be eligible for travel to the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. This includes Visa Waiver Program applicants who present emergency or temporary passports to transit the United States. U.S. Customs and Border Protection may exercise discretion at the ports of entry for cases in which Visa Waiver Program applicants are traveling for medical or other emergency reasons. A Visa Waiver Program national arriving in the United States with a non-compliant passport, for other than emergency travel reasons, may be detained for further processing and/or denied admission.

ESTA Registration

Effective January 12, 2009, all Visa Waiver Program visitors are required to register for online travel clearance through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).  It is suggested that individuals who plan to take advantage of VWP apply for ESTA authorization when they begin planning their trip to the U.S. and no later than 72 hours before their flight.  In many cases, authorization is available within seconds, but cases that receive an “Authorization Pending” response may require the full three days.  Individuals that may make short notice trips to the U.S. may apply for ESTA authorization without specific travel plans.  ESTA approvals are generally valid for two years.  However, there are a number of cases in which a new ESTA approval may be required, such as issuance of a new passport.  For more information about the ESTA registration, please visit the Customer Board Patrol website.

Although a visitor’s ESTA registration may be approved, it does not guarantee that he or she will be admitted to the U.S.  All visitors are subject to inspection upon arrival and may be denied entry at the discretion of U.S. border officials.  If the ESTA application is denied, or if the visitor does not apply for ESTA clearance, then the visitor must obtain a B-1 visa stamp at a U.S. consulate in order to enter the U.S. for short-term business or tourism.

Length of Stay in the U.S.

In order to adhere to the requirements of the Visa Waiver program, the visit must be no longer than 90 days.  If the visit will be longer, the visitor should obtain a B-1 visa stamp or perhaps another visa classification.

Honorarium/Reimbursement

Academic honorarium payments and reimbursement for incidental expenses are allowed for visitors in WB status, if the visit meets the same eligibility criteria as a B-1 visa holder.  Visitors are subject to all federal/state taxes applicable for payment.  For detail information regarding taxation, please contact the Accounts Payable Office in the Division of Business and Finance for assistance and requirements.