Visa Waiver Program & ESTA

The U.S. Embassy, Vienna, would like to remind all travelers to the U.S. that the Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTA) and Visa Waiver Program regulations that were introduced in January 2016 are currently still in effect and must be followed.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a U.S. visa. Visitors applying for entry under this program are allowed to remain for a maximum of 90 days. No extensions are granted. Visitors who enter without a visa cannot change status. (For example, you cannot decide that you want to begin a course of study or begin working in the U.S.) Travelers coming under the VWP cannot work or study. If you plan to stay for more than 90 days, to study or to work, you MUST obtain a visa before traveling. Failure to do so could result in your being detained at the port of entry and returned to Austria on the first available flight. Please see additional requirements below.

Please note that travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries must pay a fee of $14.00 when applying for an electronic travel authorization (ESTA- Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Please be aware that a search of “ESTA” in popular search engines results in links to commercial websites that offer assistance in obtaining ESTA approval for a price well above $14. We do not endorse these websites nor do we consider it necessary to pay a higher price to obtain commercial assistance to receive ESTA approval.

Visa Waiver Country List

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brunei
  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • The Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

As of April 1, 2016 all Visa Waiver Program travelers will be required to have an electronic passport (with chip).

Important Note: Please read the Austrian Passport Information.

To qualify for the VWP, travelers from participating countries must:

  1. Have a valid passport issued by the participating country and be a citizen (not only a resident) of that country;
  2. Be seeking entry for 90 days or less as a temporary visitor;
  3. If entering by air or sea, have a round-trip ticket issued on an approved carrier and arrive in the United States aboard such a carrier (Most major airlines and cruise lines are approved. The Embassy does not have a list of approved carriers. Call the carrier if you have questions. If traveling by private plane or private boat, you must obtain a visa.);
  4. If arriving by a land border, have proof of financial solvency and a domicile abroad.

Important Information for Travelers on the Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program applies for the United States of America including Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S.-Virgin Islands.

After entering the U.S. you may travel to Canada, Mexico or adjacent islands within 90 days and re-enter the U.S. using any mode of transport. You may also enter the U.S. without a visa from Canada or Mexico for up to 90 days (please note that there will be a $ 6.00 fee, payable only in U.S. dollars). You will have to show financial proof to finance your trip at the port of entry. Travelers who apply for entry at a land border crossing point are not required to present round trip transportation tickets. However, all other VWP requirements apply to such travelers.

Please do not apply for a visa if your travel plans meet the VWP requirements.

Please note that the following travelers will need a visa in any case:

NEW

  • People whose registration has been denied under ESTA and those whose ESTA travel authorization has been revoked by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and who received e-mail notification about the revocation.

NEW

  • Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria.  Beginning January 21, 2016, travelers who currently have valid Electronic System for Travel Authorizations (ESTAs) and who have previously indicated holding dual nationality with one of the four countries listed above on their ESTA applications will have their current ESTAs revoked.

NEW

  • Nationals of all Visa Waiver Program countries who have traveled to to Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Libya any time on or after March 1, 2011.  The law includes exemptions for military personnel and full-time government employees of program countries traveling to one of those countries in their official capacity.*
  • People who intend to work in the U.S. (paid or unpaid!). This includes work as an au-pair or intern.
  • People who intend to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days.
  • People who intend to attend school or university in the U.S.
  • People who have been refused admission into, or have been deported from the U.S. within the past five years.
  • People who have ever been arrested or convicted for any offense or crime (including drug trafficking).
  • People who have been afflicted with a serious communicable disease, or who are drug abusers or addicts.
  • People who have participated in the persecution of any person under the control of the Nazi Government of Germany.
  • People who have ever been a member or representative of a terrorist organization.

If any of the above applies to you, you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program and will need a visa to enter the United States.

Any traveler who receives notification that they are no longer eligible to travel under the VWP are still eligible to travel to the United States with a valid non-immigrant visa issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate.  Such travelers will be required to appear for an interview and obtain a visa in their passports at a U.S. embassy or consulate before traveling to the United States.   The detailed (step by step) visa application processing information is available at: Apply for a Visa.

Current ESTA holders are encouraged to check their ESTA status prior to travel on CBP’s website at: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/.

*Waivers may be available for following categories of travelers:  The Secretary of Homeland Security may waive these restrictions if he determines that such a waiver is in the law enforcement or national security interests of the United States.  Such waivers will be granted only on a case-by-case basis.  As a general matter, categories of travelers who may be eligible for a waiver include:

  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of international organizations, regional organizations, and sub-national governments on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on behalf of a humanitarian NGO on official duty;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria as a journalist for reporting purposes;
  • Individuals who traveled to Iran for legitimate business-related purposes following the conclusion of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (July 14, 2015); and
  • Individuals who have traveled to Iraq for legitimate business-related purposes.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has updated the online Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) that travelers must complete prior to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. Travelers seeking a waiver must apply for an ESTA and will have their waiver eligibility determined on a case-by-case basis as part of the ESTA process. If an ESTA travel authorization is granted the Visa Waiver Program may be used, if not, the traveler is not barred from traveling to the U.S. but will be required to obtain a U.S. visa.

Please note that in cases where an ESTA is authorized for persons who have traveled to Iraq, Syria, Iran or Sudan on official military order or official government business, the travelers are encouraged to travel with supporting documentation to verify their eligibility as government official/military personnel.

FAQ about the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015are available at:http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program/visa-waiver-program-improvement-and-terrorist-travel-prevention-act-faq.

ESTA (Electronic Systems for Travel Authorization)

Visa Waiver Program (VWP) travelers are required to obtain a travel authorization via the Electronic Systems for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States.

ESTA is available in many different languages and accessible online at: ELECTRONIC ESTA APPLICATION FORM.

ESTA travel authorizations are generally valid for two years, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. A visitor may travel to the U.S. repeatedly within the validity period without having to apply for another ESTA.

All ESTA registrations made on or after September 8, 2010 will be subject to an ESTA registration fee of $14.00.  The credit card payment will be made on-line in the course of the registration process.

Please note that persons entering the United States on a visa and lawful permanent resident aliens (Green Card holders) do not need an ESTA registration.

Inquiries about ESTA

This office has no access to the ESTA data base. Visa Waiver Program travelers with inquiries about their ESTA registration can first visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Patrol (DHS/CBP) info center at: http://www.cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/esta. Should a person need further information after consulting the website, one may call the ESTA Help Line at +1-202-344-3710 Monday-Friday 0800-1600 Eastern Time (local time: 02:00 pm to 10:00 pm).

Important note: If your passport has ever been reported lost or stolen to the authorities and then recovered, please do not attempt to use it for travel to the United States. If you input the passport details into ESTA, your application will be denied. Please consider replacing your passport or seek a visa.

U.S. State Department/Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – Important information regarding new ESTA travel regulations