How can a country join the VWP?

A country must meet various requirements to be considered for designation in the Visa Waiver Program. Requirements include, but are not limited to:

  • Enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the United States.
  • Issuing of e-Passports.
  • Having a visitor (B) visa refusal rate of less than three percent.
  • Timely reporting of both blank and issued lost and stolen passports.
  • Maintenance of high counter terrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards.

Designation as a VWP country is at the discretion of the U.S. government. Meeting the objective requirements of the VWP does not guarantee a country will receive VWP designation.

May I apply for a visa instead of using the VWP?

Travelers who are eligible for the VWP may apply for a visitor (B) visa, if they prefer to do so. If you do not meet all of the criteria explained in this webpage, then you must apply for a visa. Additionally, you need to apply for a visa if you will be traveling on a private aircraft or other non-VWP approved air or sea carrier. Review the approved carriers list. Also, if you intend to extend your stay beyond 90 days or change your status once in the United States (for example, you intend to request change of status to student or temporary worker, etc.), then you need to apply for a visa.

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