|All thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (WVP) of the United States, more and more citizens from other countries have greater opportunity and more mobility to travel to the country. Besides being a program to attract tourists, the VWP is also part of the US government’s efforts to strengthen its ties with other countries of the world and at the same time, foster safe and legal travel to the US. This is particularly important in light of the US’ campaign against terrorism.
Started around the late 1980s, the VWP grants visa-free eligibility to nationals and passport-holders of the countries under this program. Currently, there are 37 countries included under the VWP. They are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom. There are also other countries whose application into the VWP is currently under evaluation, such as Poland and Cyprus.
Under the VWP, one can travel to the US without a visa by simply securing a travel authorization or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The ESTA is an online program administered by the US DHS wherein they screen travelers to the US and determines their eligibility to travel visa-free.
The ESTA is a more convenient and practical option for those who are going to the US for less than 90 days and who feel that a visa application is too tedious a process for such a short stay, or those who are going to the US on short notice and do not have the time to work on their visa application. Because the authorization is also good for multiple visits, it’s a good choice for businessmen or professionals who frequent the US and stay there for a short time.