DHS Secretary Napolitano has announced on May 20, 2010 the elimination of the paper Form I-94W, Arrival/Departure Form, for travelers from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) who have an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). CBP expects to implement automated processing for U.S. airports on a rolling basis by the end of this summer.
ESTA is an electronic travel authorization that all citizens from VWP countries must obtain prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP. ESTA has been mandatory since January 12, 2009 for all nationals of VWP countries travelling to the U.S. under the VWP. VWP travelers are required to log onto the ESTA web site and complete an online application. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and, once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years or until the applicant's passport expires. Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries. As of March 20, 2010, the airlines are no longer supposed to allow VWP travelers to board a U.S.-bound plane without an approved ESTA application.
The ESTA requirement does not affect citizens of VWP countries traveling on a valid U.S. visa, and those individuals will continue to be issued paper Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Records even after the paper Form I-94W has been eliminated.