Visa Waiver Program

Seeking to expand travel to the United States and to reduce the administrative burden of issuing visas, Congress in 1986 enacted legislation permitting a pilot visa-waiver program restricted to visitors (B-1 and B-2). This program, now permanent, allows certain aliens to enter the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The program is limited to nationals of countries that extend or agree to extend reciprocal privileges to U.S. citizens and that have been designated as a program country. Countries whose citizens are currently eligible for the visa waiver program are as follows: Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Uruguay.

A person admitted under this program cannot be authorized to remain in the United States longer than ninety days, except that, in emergency situations, the district director may permit satisfactory departure within another thirty days without a violation of status. Persons admitted under the visa waiver program may not change nonimmigrant status within the United States; nor may they apply for adjustment of status under INA §245(a), unless they are the immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen or unless they are otherwise eligible for a waiver under §245(i).