Effective November 17, 2008, the visa waiver program that allows citizens from certain countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism without a visa has been expanded to include the following seven new countries: the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea. Recent design changes to the visa waiver program allowed for its expansion to admit these new members while simultaneously increasing security standards for existing member countries.
Business travelers and students are still able to obtain visas like citizens of non-member countries, but tourists who intend to utilize the visa waiver program must register online with the ESTA (see link in previous article). The information obtained from the ESTA is the same information that the United States previously collected in written form on an in-bound international flights (i.e., the standards for admission to the United States under the visa waiver program remain unchanged). The ESTA system, however, allows a foreign national to know in advance of his or her flight if there will be an issue with entry into the United States, and can go to the appropriate U.S. embassy to resolve any issues prior to their arrival.