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Visitors-The Philadelphia Inquirer
- Citizens from 27
nations may make tourist or business trips to the
United States for 90 days or less without obtaining a
visa. For such visits, these foreigners are
exempt from the new US-VISIT fingerprint and photo
- The countries are:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei,
Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland,
Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco,
Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, San Marino,
Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom,
Portugal and Singapore.
- Also excepted are most
Canadians, because they usually do not need visas, and
those Mexicans who are visiting the United States for
a short time and are not venturing far from the
Excerpts from Visitor
Visas-U.S. Department of State
Generally, a citizen of a
foreign country who wishes to enter the United States
must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for
temporary stay, ...
The "visitor" visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons
desiring to enter the United States temporarily for
business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatments
- Changes introduced shortly
after September 11, 2001 involve extensive and ongoing
review of visa issuing practices as they relate to our
national security. Visa applications are now
subject to a greater degree of scrutiny than in the
past. So it is important to apply for your visa
well in advance of your travel departure date.
- Foreign travelers who are
citizens from certain eligible countries, may also be
able to visit the U.S. without a visa on the Visa
Visa Waiver Program
passports - The Secretary of State has granted a
postponement until October 26, 2004, as the deadline
whereby visa waiver program travelers from 21 VWP
countries must present a machine-readable passport (MRP)
at the U.S. port of entry to enter the U.S. without a
visa, otherwise a U.S. visa is required. Starting
October 1, 2003 visa waiver travelers from five
countries must present either a machine-readable
passport of a U.S. visa.
Belgium who wish to travel to the U.S. under the
Visa Waiver Program must present a machine-readable
passport (MRP) effective May 15, 2003.
The Visa Waiver
Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to
travel to the United States for tourism or business for
90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Not all
countries participate in the VWP. Some
restrictions apply to this program as explained below
and in the section, "What Do I Need to Enter the United
States under the VWP?"
Program - Participating Countries
Countries in bold above with the (MRP) designation are
required to have machine-readable passports (MRP) as
of October 1, 2003 for travelers to enter the U.S. on
the visa waiver program. All other countries
visa waiver program travelers about must have a MRP as
of October 26, 2004 except Belgium, which has had an
MRP requirement for VWP travelers since May 15, 2003.
What is a
Machine Readable Passport?
readable passport has biographical data entered on the
data page according to international specifications.
The size of the passport and photograph, and
arrangement of data fields, especially the two lines
of printed OCR-B machine readable data, meet the
standards of the International Civil Aviation
Organization, Doc 9303, Part 1 Machine Readable
Passports. OCR-B means the type is Optical
Character Reader size B. If there are questions
about your passport, after carefully reviewing this
information, and any information which may be
available to you from your country, you may want to
contact the passport issuing agency or authority in
your country of citizenship.
What do I Need
to Enter the United States under the VWP?
To enter the U.S.
under the VWP, travelers from participating countries
Be a citizen of a
Visa Waiver Program country;
Have a valid
passport issued by the participating country that is
valid for six months beyond your intended visit; Have
a machine-readable passport (MRP), following the
required due dates for MRPs explained above;
Be seeking entry
for 90 days or less, as a temporary visitor for
business or pleasure. You will not be permitted
to extend your visit or change to another visa
category under the VWP.
Visitors for Pleasure - While
this is not a complete listing, here are types of
- Visiting friends and relatives, touring or
vacationing, visits for rest;
- Visits for medical treatment.
- Participating in conventions, conferences or
convocation of fraternal or social organizations;
- Amateurs participating in sports, musical, and other
events or contests, who will recieve no money or other
remuneration in return
If entering by air or sea, have a
roung-trip transportaion ticket issued on a carrier
that has signed an agreement with the U.S. government
to participate in the VWP, and arrive in the United
States aboard such a carrier.
Hold a completed and signed
Nonimigrant Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record, Form
I-94W, on which he/she has waived the right of review
or appeal of an imigration officer's determination
about admissibility, or deportation. These forms
are available from participating carriers, from travel
agents, and at land-border ports-of-entry.
You must have no visa ineligibilities.
This means if you have been refused a visa before,
have a criminal record or are ineligible for a visa
you cannot travel on the Visa Waiver Program without a
visa. You must apply for a visa to the U.S.
Entry at a land border crossing point
from Canada or Mexico is permitted under the Visa
Is there Any Fee?
There is a small filing fee for the
Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival-Departure Record,
Form I-94W from airlines.
When Does a Citizen of a VWP Country
Need to Apply for a Visa?
You must apply for a visa under the following
circumstances, if you:
want to work or study in the United
have been refused a visa before; or
have a criminal record; or
are ineligible for a visa.
Do Canadian Citizens Need a Visa or
Citizens of Canada generally do
not require a visa. (While some people
mistakenly think Canada is part of the visa waiver
program, the authorization for Canadian citizens to
travel visa-free comes from other immigration laws.)
The machine-readable passport requirement does not
apply to Canadian citizens, because they are not part
of the visa waiver program. It should be noted,
these Canadian citizens traveling to the US require
nonimmigrant visas: treaty traders (E), and fiance/es
(K-1), as well as a U.S. citizen's foreign citizen
spouse, who is traveling to the U.S. to reside here
while they wait for the final completion of the
process of immigration (K-3), and their respective
children (K-2 for children of fiancees, and K-4 for
children of a foreign citizen spouse), spouses of
lawful permanent residents (V-1) and the children of
those spouses (V-2) traveling to the U.S. to reside
here while they wait for the final completion of their
immigration process. Additionally, these
Canadian citizens traveling to the US require
nonimmigrant visas: foreign government officials (A),
officials and employees of international organizations
(G), NATO officials, representatives and employees if
they are being assigned to the U.S. (as opposed to an
athletes and sports teams may come to the U.S. with
visitors visas. Most of these visitors need
B-1/B-2 visitor visas to enter the United States.
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