Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taiwan Now Part of the Visa Waiver Program

Taiwan has now become part of the visa waiver program.  The visa waiver program permits nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States with the need to apply for a tourist visa.  The length of stay is typically limited to 90 days.  During this time, the visitor is not permitted to work in the United States.

Currently, there are 37 countries that participate in the visa waiver program.  The list of countries can be found here.

In order to take advantage of the visa waiver program, travelers must seek travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization program, or ESTA.  This is a computer-based system, where travelers input their information to receive the ability to travel visa-free to the United States.  Once you receive travel authorization, it is good for two years.  The ESTA website can be found here.

Travel authorization does not give you the right to be admitted to the United States.  It gives you the right to present yourself to a Customs agent at a port of entry to seek admission.  The Customs agent may still ask questions, and determine if you are inadmissible for any reason.  For example, it is fraud to obtain travel authorization through ESTA if you intent is to come to the United States to try to stay and become a permanent resident.

Frequently Asked Questions on ESTA can be found here. 

There was some debate for a while on whether an entry through the visa waiver program can count as admission after inspection for the purposes of adjusting to status as a permanent resident.  Recently, USCIS was instructed that an entry through the visa waiver program could be a valid admission for such purpose.  The instructions can be found in this Question and Answer session USCIS held with the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

By: William J. Kovatch, Jr.
(703) 837-8832


  1. Thank you for giving information about the US visa waiver program. I am trying to get it and your information will be really helpful for me.

    US Visa Waiver Program