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Visa Waiver Program - ESTA
 

The Visa Waiver Program - ESTA

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows Belgian citizens (and citizens of designated countries: for a complete list click here) to apply for admission to the United States as visitors (traveling for holiday and/or business OR  in transit) without first obtaining a non-immigrant business/tourist visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

To apply for admission into the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, the traveler must meet each of  the following conditions:

  • You must have a valid electronic passport issued by the participating country and be a citizen (not only a resident) of that country. Electronic passports show the symbol  on the cover, indicating that the passport contains an electronic chip. The passport must be valid for at least the duration of the stay in the United States.  Children, even babies, need their own, individual electronic passport.  For more detailed information on compliant passports, please check the website of the U.S. embassy in the country of your nationality. 
  • Log onto the official ESTA website https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov and obtain an electronic ESTA travel authorization.  ESTA is a fully-automated, internet-based electronic system for screening  VWP passengers before they begin travel to the U.S.  VWP citizens must apply for advance authorization to travel to the U.S.  without a visa.

ESTA is mandatory for VWP travelers from all VWP countries: travelers without a visa are required to obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to/through the U.S. ATTENTION: Please obtain this electronic travel authorization (ESTA) before you make any travel arrangements.

  • You must seek entry for 90 days or less for tourism, business or transit.   VWP travelers proceeding to Canada, Mexico or the Carribean Islands from the U.S. may re-enter the U.S. by air/sea or land.  However, their total stay in the region may not exceed 90 days. 
  • If entering by air or sea, you must have a round-trip or onward transportation ticket issued by a carrier that has signed an agreement to participate in this program with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and you must arrive in the United States on such a carrier. Currently, most major transportation companies are participating in this program.  

Travelers with onward tickets terminating in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean Islands must be residents of these areas.

If entering by land from Canada or Mexico, no onward ticket is required, but you should be prepared to show proof at the border that you can pay for your stay in the U.S. and that you have a domicile outside of the U.S. to which you intend to return.

  • You must have proof of financial solvency (credit cards, traveler checks, etc.)
  • Visitors applying for entry under the Visa Waiver Program may stay in the U.S. up to ninety (90) days. No extensions nor changes of status are allowed.

  
ATTENTION: The Visa Waiver Program is not valid for the following travelers.  These travelers need a visa:

  • Travelers planning  to stay more than 90 days
  • Travelers by private aircraft or boat
  • Students, travelers planning to take up paid or unpaid employment in the U.S. This also includes journalists/media workers, au-pairs and interns.
  • Travelers ineligible to enter the U.S. without a visa.  This includes those previously denied visas, with criminal records, immigration violations or contagious diseases of public  health significance.
  • Travelers with a diplomatic or official status AND who are traveling to/through the U.S. on an official mission.  Please click here for more details.
  • Non-citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries
  • Since January 21, 2016: Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
  • Since January 21, 2016: Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudanor Syria.
  • Since February 18, 2016: Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Libya, Somalia, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country)
  • As of 1 April 2016: nationals of VWP countries who are not in possession of an electronic passport.

OFFICIAL ESTA WEBSITE

  • ATTENTION: The only US-government approved ESTA website is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov  .  Other, for-profit organizations and individuals advertize ESTA services for a substantial fee.  The US government has no/no connection to such organizations or individuals and is not responsible for any service they promise, actual or implied. 

RECENT CHANGES: AM I AFFECTED?

  • -As of 01 April 2016, VWP nationals who wish to travel to/through the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must have a valid electronic passport. Electronic passports have the symbol  on their cover.  This rule applies even to those who possess a valid ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization.  VWP nationals who do not have an electronic passport must either obtain an electronic passport and a new ESTA, or obtain a visa.   

    -Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admittted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program:

    1) Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
    2) Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. 

    Are you affected?  You will have to apply for a visa.  

    If you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program partner but have received notice that you are no longer eligible to travel to the U.S. under that program, you should apply for a nonimmigrant visa at least three months in advance of your desired travel.  If you do not have plans to travel within the next two weeks, you should pay the nonimmigrant visa application fee, fill out the DS-160 nonimmigrant visa application form at ceac.state.gov/genniv/, and schedule a visa appointment via https://usvisa-info.com.  If your travel is planned within the next two weeks, you may request an expedited visa appointment. To request an expedited appointment, please send an email to Brusselsvisa@state.gov. Please include in your request the date and purpose of your travel, as well as a copy of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection message you received regarding your ESTA status.

    Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP's website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov .

    For more detailed information, please see:
    Press Release of January 21, 2016.
    Press Release of  February 18, 2016.