Starting on November 1, 2012 Taiwanese passport holders are eligible to visit the United States without a visa for up to 90 days for business or pleasure.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently announced the designation of Taiwan into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which will allow for the streamlining of travel for eligible Taiwan passport holders.  The announcement supports President Obama’s Executive Order on travel and tourism, directing federal agencies to expand our nation’s ability to attract and welcome visitors, while maintaining strong security standards.

 In deciding to add Taiwan to the program, the White House stated that  the U.S. and Taiwan have a long-standing economic partnership and it expects that Taiwan’s participation in the VWP will not only stimulate tourism, but enable the two to work together to maintain the highest level of security.  During the VWP designation process, DHS has determined that Taiwan is in compliance with key security and information-sharing requirements, such as enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the U.S., timely reporting of lost and stolen passports, and the maintenance of high counterterrorism, law enforcement, border control, aviation, and document security standards

 The VWP permits visa-free travel to the United States for eligible travelers visiting the U.S. for a time period of 90 days or less for purposes of business or tourism.  There are currently 36 countries that participate in the VWP and have accounted for 18.3 million visits to the U.S. in fiscal year 2011.  In fiscal year 2011, Taiwan nationals alone have accounted for 243,186 of the visitors to the U.S.   To utilize the VWP, eligible travelers are required to apply for advanced authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). 

 VWP entrants should be careful to follow all program requirements as any infraction will cause the VWP entrant to be barred from using the program in the future. Infractions may include overstaying the allowable time period, failing to provide complete immigration and arrest histories on the ESTA application, or working in the US while on VWP.