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Changes to US Visa Waiver Programme from August 2008
Summary Most British Citizens visiting the US for less than 90 days do not require a visa as they qualify for visa free entry under the US Visa Waiver Programme (US VWP) (see below). However, exclusions apply and you should check whether you qualify well in advance of travelling. Useful guidance can be found in the Entry Requirements section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice website and the US Embassy/Department for Homeland Security websites through the following links (please note these are links to external sites and will open in a new browser window):
If you are not a resident of the UK you will need to contact the US Embassy in your country of residence.
More information If you are travelling under the Visa Waiver Programme from early 2009 you must also have Travel Authorisation to the United States. You can receive authorisation by completing the online form at the US Department of Homeland Security and a decision will normally be made within seconds. Although authorisation will only become compulsory in 2009 you will be able to apply voluntarily from the beginning of August 2008. It is recommended that you do so to familiarise yourself with the new system.
What is Travel Authorisation? Travel Authorisation is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). Currently, citizens of countries eligible for the VWP fill in a green form (I-94W) whilst en route to the US. The Travel Authorisation will replace this form at some time in the future, although passengers can apply for Travel Authorisation from the beginning of August 2008 on a voluntary basis. When the Travel Authorisation becomes compulsory passengers will be asked to apply for one no later than 72 hours prior to departure.
Do I need to apply for Travel Authorisation? Currently it is not compulsory to apply for Travel Authorisation but from the beginning of August 2008 passengers are recommended to apply for one on a voluntary basis. It is expected that Travel Authorisation will become mandatory for all citizens of VWP countries from early 2009.
How do I apply for Travel Authorisation? Log onto US Department of Homeland Security and complete the online application form. The US Department of Homeland Security recommends that applications be submitted no less than 72 hours prior to travel. In most cases you will receive a response within seconds.
What information is required for Travel Authorisation? The information required for Travel Authorisation is the same as is currently required by the green visa waiver form (I-94W). The traveller must provide biographical data including name, date of birth and passport information, as well as travel information such as the flight number and destination address in the United States. The traveller will also be required to answer VWP eligibility yes/no questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions for certain crimes, and past history of visa refusal among others.
Will I still need to fill in the green visa waiver form (I-94W)? Until the US authorities withdraw the I-94W you will still need to fill in the green visa waiver form on board the aircraft.
Which countries are part of the visa waiver scheme? Andorra Austria Australia Belgium Brunei Denmark Finland France Germany Iceland Ireland Italy Japan Liechtenstein Luxembourg Monaco The Netherlands New Zealand Norway Portugal San Marino Singapore Slovenia Spain Sweden Switzerland United Kingdom
How far in advance can I apply for Travel Authorisation? You can apply for Travel Authorisation from the beginning of August 2008. VWP travellers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before applying for Travel Authorisation. The US Department of Homeland Security recommends that Travel Authorisation approval be obtained as soon as a VWP traveller begins to plan a trip to the US and no later than 72 hours before departure.
How long is the Travel Authorisation valid? Approved Travel Authorisation applications are valid for two years and allow for multiple trips to the US. However, a new Travel Authorisation will have to be obtained if an individual has a new passport within the two-year period or if any answers to the YES/NO questions on the Travel Authorisation application form change within this period.
Do I need Travel Authorisation even if I’m just transiting through the US? Yes, Travel Authorisation will be compulsory for all travel to the US from early 2009.
My Travel Authorisation has not been authorised. Does this mean I can’t travel? You cannot travel on the visa waiver scheme without Travel Authorisation. You should contact the US Embassy and enquire about a visa.
Can I apply for Travel Authorisation even if I have no firm plans to visit the US? Visa Waiver Programme travellers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the US before they apply for a Travel Authorisation.
Can I complete the form in a language other than English? It is a requirement of the US Department of Homeland Security that the application be completed in English.
Do I still need to fill in my APIS details? Yes. Travel Authorisation is in addition to the requirement to submit APIS data.
I am not a citizen of a country eligible for the VWP – how does this affect me? There is no change to the current visa arrangements for citizens of non-visa waiver countries at this time.
Why when the US authorities are not yet enforcing this are you asking your customers to give the data? From the beginning of August 2008 passengers can apply for Travel Authorisation on a voluntary basis – we are not enforcing this procedure until we are obliged to do so in early 2009.
I am traveling to the US on business. Will I need to apply for a Travel Authorisation? Most business travellers can travel on the Visa Waiver Programme. Check with the US Embassy if in doubt.
Important changes from August 2008 to the US Visa Waiver Programme