International travelers, holders of national passports of certain countries, who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must take preliminary enhanced security steps in order to be allowed to board a US bound plain and pay an administrative fee. This process is known as Electronic System For Travel Authorization (ESTA). Only those who took pain to undertake receiving prior ESTA approval will be allowed to board US bound trains or enter the USA by any other means. The following are required steps to be completed on ESTA website:
- Complete Your Application;
- Submit The Application;
- Record Application Number;
- Make Payment;
- Follow Application Status until the decision is made.
Citizens of the following countries may utilize visa waiver program:
A Andorra Australia Austria
B Belgium Brunei
C Chile Czech Republic
F Finland France
G Germany Greece
I Iceland Ireland Italy
L Latvia Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg
M Malta Monaco
N Netherlands New Zealand Norway
S San Marino Singapore Slovakia Slovenia South Korea Spain Sweden Switzerland
U United Kingdom
The following condition must be met to utilize the VWP:
A. The Visitor Must Be Coming for Permitted Purpose
1. Pleasure. Stay up to 90 days is allowed for tourism or business. Transiting or traveling through the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers. the following activities are allowed:
- vacation (holiday)
- visit with friends or relatives
- medical treatment
- participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating
- enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)
2. Business: The following activities are allowed:
- consult with business associates
- attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference
- attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)
- negotiate a contract
3. Activities not allowed on VWP entries:
- study, for credit
- work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
- permanent residence in the United States
B. Previous Compliance and No Prior Visa Ineligibility
If the visitor had a U.S. visa in the past or previously traveled to the United States under the VWP or another status, s/he must have complied with the conditions of previous admissions to the United States, and must not have previously been found ineligible for a U.S. visa.
Travelers should be aware that by requesting admission under the Visa Waiver Program, they are generally waiving their right to review or appeal a CBP officer's decision as to their application for admission at the port of entry. See the CBP website for additional details.
C. Must Have the Correct Type of Passport.
Visitors must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of the visitor's family, including infants and children, must have his/her own passport.
In addition, one's passport must meet the following requirements for VWP travel:
Citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Republic of Korea, and the Slovak Republic must have a machine-readable Passport with an integrated chip containing information from the passport data page.
Citizens of Taiwan must have a machine-readable Passport with an integrated chip containing information from the passport data page and a national ID number.
Citizens of all other VWP countries must have a machine-readable passport, and if the passport was issued, renewed, or extended after 10/26/06, it must contain integrated chip containing information from the passport data page. If the passport was renewed or extended between 10/26/05 and 10/25/06, it must contain digital photograph printed on the data page or an integrated chip with information from the data page. For passports renewed or extended before 10/26/05, there are no such further requirements.
For those who are eligible and approved for travel by ESTA, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows a stay in the United States for up to 90 days. Leaving prior to the 90 days has no detrimental effect on future travels to the United States and is actually expected. However if you overstay your allowed 90 days on the Visa Waiver Program, you may have a difficult time being allowed to re-enter the United States on the VWP regardless of whether your ESTA is subsequently approved. In some instances, you may even have accrued unlawful presence and may be barred from entering the U.S. for a certain period of time (three or ten years depending on the period of unauthorized stay).
It is possible to extend your stay past the allowed 90 days in the Visa Waiver Program but only in case of an emergency. Keep in mind that any extension is not to exceed 30 days. This extension, if approved, will not have any negative impact on the Visa Waiver requirements and thus, you will not be considered to have violated the terms of the Visa Waiver Program.
As for the emergency on which this request for an extension is based, it needs to be legitimate and “real”. The Customs and Border Protection website mentions emergencies that are allowed, such as hospitalization, weather conditions which prevent air travel or in some cases, worker strikes. Absent any of these or similar emergency situations, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may likely deny the extension request.
To request this extension of stay, you should schedule an InfoPass appointment with a USCIS officer using USCIS' website, uscis.gov. At this appointment, you should provide documentation and any other evidence to the USCIS officer to support your need to extend your Visa Waiver stay. It is strongly advised to keep any and all records that support your request. These records may include canceled airplane tickets, statements from doctors or airport personnel or any evidence showing harsh weather conditions.