Client Alert

Immigration News: White House Announces Addition of Seven Countries to Visa Waiver Program

October 24, 2008

The Immigration Practice Group

The White House has recently announced that seven additional nations have met the criteria for participation in the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"), and that six nations are on track to be included in the program in the future. Once the change is implemented, which is expected before the end of 2008, citizens of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea will be able to travel to the United States under the terms of the VWP. The countries that are on track to be included in the VWP in the future are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland, and Romania.

Under the VWP, travelers from participating countries may be admitted to the United States without a visa stamp if they are entering for tourism or business for 90 days or less. There are specific rules applicable to an entry under the VWP, including a requirement for having a passport that complies with VWP rules. For use in entering under the VWP, any passport issued on or after October 26, 2006 must be an e-Passport. An e-Passport has an integrated computer chip that holds the same information as that printed on the passports data page: the holders name, date of birth and other biographic information. To be used for travel under the VWP, passports issued by VWP countries between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006 must include a digital photo printed on the data page. A digital photo is one that is printed on the page, not a photo that is glued or laminated into the passport. Passports issued before October 26, 2005 must have a machine-readable zone. A machine-readable passport has two lines of text as letters, numbers and chevrons (

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