Since the new administration has taken over, several changes have been made to the way immigration is handled in the U.S. One of those changes has been to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The VWP is a program that allows some individuals from certain countries to enter the U.S. for business or tourism programs without a visa. Countries that participate in the program include Australia, Andorra, Argentina, Belgium, Austria, Barbados, Brazil, Bulgaria, Brunei, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Chile, Denmark, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Estonia, Fiji, France, Finland, Germany, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jamaica, Kiribati, Liechtenstein, Latvia, Luxembourg, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Moldova, Mexico, Mongolia, Montenegro, Monaco, Malta, New Zealand, Netherlands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Portugal, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Singapore, San Marino, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Switzerland, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, Uruguay, Vanuatu, and the United Kingdom.
To participate in the VWP, you must obtain authorization through the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which is an automated system that gathers biographical information and reviews answers to determine eligibility. Some exceptions, however, exist even for some people who meet the qualifications. For example, travel to Iran, Libya, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Syria, or Yemen after March 2011 will likely result in denial.
There is also a time limit for how long you can stay in the U.S. The time limit is typically 90 days or less and that time limitation is strict. Extensions are rarely, if ever, allowed.
Changes to the VWP have been designed to ensure that the people who partake in the program are fully compliant with the rules. Consequently, any changes made, or being made, are specifically geared to the enforcement of the program. They include:
Immigrants who are considering the use of, or are currently using, a waiver program such as VWP should be aware that the requirements and rules for these programs are changing. Consequently, it is important to seek the advice of an immigration attorney who is experienced in these matters and can guide you through the changes as they arise. This will ensure that you have a favorable outcome during your stay in the U.S.
The attorneys at Joseph & Hall P.C. have decades of experiencing educating themselves on the ever-evolving immigration laws and helping their clients navigate through the system legally and safely. Contact them today to schedule a consultation to make sure that you are abiding by the terms of your visa as well as any other immigration concerns you might have.
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