University of Wisconsin–Madison

Visa Waiver Program

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables most citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without first obtaining a visa.  If you enter the US on the VWP, all the rules of entering the US as a B1/B2 apply to you.

The following activities are permitted on the VWP:

Business activities:

  • 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

Tourist Activities:

  • Tourism
  • 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)

The following activities are NOT permitted on the VWP:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • apply for permanent residence in the United States

How long can I remain in the U.S. on the VWP?

You can remain in the U.S. for 1 day up until a maximum of 90 days. If you plan to visit for longer than 90 days, you must obtain B-1/B-2 visa stamp to enter the U.S .If you are permitted to enter the U.S. on the VWP, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will note your status as WB and/or WT (waiver for business; waiver for tourism).

Who is eligible?

Citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP. However, if you are a citizen of one of these countries and also a national of Iraq, Iran, Syria, or Sudan, you are not eligible for the VWP.

Eligible Nationalities
Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Ireland San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxembourg Sweden
Finland Malta Switzerland
France Monaco Taiwan
Germany Netherlands United Kingdom
Greece New Zealand

Who is not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?

Recently, there were changes to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that establish new eligibility requirements for travel under the VWP. These new eligibility requirements do not prohibit travel to the United States. Instead, a traveler who does not meet the requirements must first obtain a visa stamp for travel to the United States, which generally includes an in-person interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the VWP:

  • Nationals of VWP countries who have been present in Iraq, Syria, or countries listed under specified designation lists (currently including Iran and Sudan) at any time on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited government/military exceptions). As of February 18, Libya, Somalia and Yemen have been added to this list.
  • Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan.
    For more information, please review U.S. Customs and Border Protection website .


There is no dependent status for the VWP. All visitors wishing to travel on the VWP, must be eligible and apply for the VWP separately.

Grace period

VWP do not have a grace period for entry and departure to the US. VWP visitors are given an exact date by which they must leave the US.

How do I request the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) status?

There are several steps to apply for the VWP. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Please consult the instructions available on the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply.

In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Visit the ESTA webpage on the CBP website for more information.