As we previously reported, all foreign nationals seeking admission to the United States using the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on or after July 1, 2009 face new passport and documentary requirements.

All VWP travelers must use emergency or temporary electronic passports to be eligible for entry into the United States. Electronic passports can be identified by a special symbol on the front cover and contain an electronic chip that stores a digitized photograph, biographic data and other relevant information about the true bearer. Alternatively, travelers can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will waive this requirement only where the applicant is seeking admission for medical or other emergencies in the most emergent circumstances. Any VWP applicants seeking admission to the United States with a noncompliant passport will be denied admission and returned to their home country. In addition, the airline that allowed the passenger to board with a non-compliant passport may be subject to fines.

Remember, all VWP travelers still must present a completed Form I-94W to CBP—even though they have obtained travel authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), when applying for admission to the United States.