There are two ways to enter the United States as a visitor, either with a formal United States tourist visa (officially called a B-2 visa) or through the Visa Waiver Program. Travelers entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are required to apply online for a "Travel Authorization" (eVisa) under the "Electronic System for Travel Authorization
", officially abbreviated as ESTA
Important News for Swiss Citizens:
Citizens of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries may travel to the United States without a visa, but are required to apply for ESTA. Switzerland
is one of the 38 countries. Swiss citizens are encouraged to read this page for more information on how to apply.
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
The visa waiver program is a U.S. government program that enables citizens from 38 countries to enter the United States for tourism, transit or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The advantage of entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program is that you can travel to the United States on short notice without obtaining a visa.
What is ESTA?
ESTA is the official abbreviation for "Electronic System for Travel Authorization". ESTA is an online application system developed by the United States government to pre-screen travelers before they are allowed to board an airplane or ship bound for the United States.
Who needs to apply for ESTA?
Any person who wants to enter the United States (by air or sea) under the visa waiver program must apply for ESTA
, including Swiss citizens.
What countries are included the visa waiver program?
The following 38 countries are part of the visa waiver program: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
There are several other eligibility requirements, including:
How long is an approved ESTA valid for?
- The traveler must hold a machine readable passport
- The traveler must not have a criminal record in any country
- The traveler is only allowed to say in the USA for up to 90 days
- Extensions of stay are not allowed once you enter the United States
An approved ESTA is normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. However, the traveler is allowed to stay for up to 90 days in the United States on each visit.
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