As a reminder, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) became effective on January 12, 2009. All nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries are now required to obtain approval through ESTA prior to traveling to the United States. This requirement applies to all eligible citizens or nationals traveling under the VWP. Click here to view Hogan & Hartson’s prior update on the ESTA requirements for visa waiver visitors.  

ESTA is a web-based system, that determines the preliminary eligibility of visitors to travel under the VWP prior to boarding a carrier to the United States. The DHS will take a reasonable approach to travelers who have not obtained an approved travel authorization via ESTA, and will continue an aggressive advertising and outreach campaign throughout 2009. Travelers without an approved ESTA are advised, however, that they may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry. Visitors may apply for travel authorization via the ESTA Web site. According to U.S. government statistics, of the more than 732,000 ESTA applications filed so far, over 99.7 percent have been approved, the vast majority in less than one minute.  

The citizens or nationals of the following countries are currently eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.