At present, to be eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), you must be a citizen of a country
that has been designed by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with
the Secretary of State, as a “program country”. Note that if you are a permanent resident of
a program country but are not a citizen, then you do not qualify for the visa waiver.
The current countries that meet the criteria of Section 217(c) of the Immigration and Nationality
Act (Title 8 U.S.C § 1187), which includes passport security, a non-immigrant visa refusal
rate of 3% or less, and ongoing compliance with the immigration law of the U.S.,
are the following 38 countries and territories:
Taiwan* Citizens with Taiwanese national ID number only
United Kingdom* Only British citizens
Citizens from these countries are eligible to obtain visa-free entry into the U.S. under the VWP.
Visitors may stay for 90 days in the U.S., which also includes time spent in Canada, Mexico, Bermuda,
or the islands in the Caribbean, if the arrival was through the U.S.
The ESTA is required if you are arriving by air or by sea. The Visa Waiver applies without
ESTA for land border crossings, but VWP does not apply for passengers arriving via air or
sea on an unapproved carrier, and thus a visa would be required.
For all countries, citizens with certain countries in their travel history are ineligible.
Since 2016, these countries have included: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or
Yemen on or after March 1, 2011. Persons who have dual citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or
Syria are similarly ineligible. Notwithstanding, certain categories such as diplomats,
military personnel, journalists, humanitarian workers, or legitimate businessmen may have
their visa requirement waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security.