The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.
Nationals of VWP countries must meet eligibility requirements to travel without a visa on VWP, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program. Prior to travel, VWP travelers are required to have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and must possess a machine-readable or e-passport depending on when the VWP travelers’ passports were issued.
The implementation of the ESTA program allows the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate the requirement that VWP travelers complete an I-94W prior to being admitted to the United States.
Definition from Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary
A program that allows nationals from certain countries to come to the United States without a visa, so long as they're planning on being tourists, and to leave within 90 days. Persons coming to the United States under this program receive green-colored I-94 cards. They are not (except in rare cases) permitted to extend their stay or change their statuses. For example, someone who enters on the visa waiver program cannot then ask to stay on as a student, but would have to leave the U.S. and apply for a student visa.
Definition provided by Nolo’s Plain-English Law Dictionary.
August 19, 2010, 5:26 pm