Hey guys. Im planning on traveling from New York to L.A. starting mid january through to april 1st. I've read about this Visa Waiver program which i think im ok to do but i dont really understand it. There is some kind of form to fill out but dont know how to get hold of it and also not sure if im ok to go without visa as im not going to be staying in one place. Basically if sombody could explain this whole Visa Waiver thing to me that would be a great help.
The Visa Waiver Program is a program that allows travellers from certain countries the ability to travel to the US for leisure travel without having to get a visa in advance. To qualify, you need to:
- Be travelling on a passport from Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland or the United Kingdom.
- The purpose of your stay in the United States is 90 days or less for tourism or business
- You have a a machine-readable passport (MRP) valid for six months past your expected stay in the United States
- You have never been denied a US visa in the past
- You are travelling on an approved carrier and have an onward ticket out of the US
- You don't have a criminal record.
If that is the case, then you fill out a I-94W form, which will either be provided for you on your flight, or you can pick up in customs and immigration and head up to the customs agent.
All sorts of information from the US Gov website.
Note that a different program covers travellers from Canada, Mexico and Bermuda. These countries are not participants in the Visa Waiver Program. Other programs cover the ability for visa-free travel for nationals of Canada, Mexico and Bermuda.
Reading your previous post on another thread, I assume you're a UK citizen. Some basic info in your profile will help in a lot of cases.
Now, back to your question. UK is one of the participating countries in the visa waiver program so you don't need to apply for a visa to enter the US. However, anyone who has previous criminal record is not qualified for that and will have to apply for a visa. So if you're clean, just go and don't worry about it. Read more here: Visa Waiver Program
As for the form, I think you're referring to the the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) which was introduced last month. It's a system for the US border to check travellers before they travel. ESTA is still optional/voluntary now, but it'll become mandatory next year.