Adding Countries to the Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver Program Designation

  • offer reciprocal privileges to U.S. citizens
  • have had a nonimmigrant visitor visa refusal rate of less than 3% for the previous year or a lower average percentage over the previous two fiscal years;
  • issue electronic, machine-readable passports that contain a biometric identifier
  • certify that it issues tamper-resistant, machine-readable visa documents that incorporate biometric identifiers, which are verifiable at the country’s port of entry
  • certify that it has in place mechanisms to validate machine-readable passports and e-passports at each port of entry;
  • enter into an agreement with the United States to report or make available through INTERPOL information about the theft or loss of passports no later than 24 hours after a theft or loss is reported to the VWP country;
  • certify, to the maximum extent allowed under its laws, that it is screening each foreign national who is admitted or departs, using relevant INTERPOL databases and notices, or other means designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security (this requirement only applies to countries that have an international airport);
  • accept the repatriation of any citizen, former citizen, or national against whom a final order of removal from the United States is issued no later than three weeks after the order is issued;
  • enter into and fully implement an agreement with the United States to share information regarding whether a national traveling to the United States represents a threat to U.S. security or welfare;
  • be determined, by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, not to compromise the law enforcement or security interests of the United States by its inclusion in the program.
Source: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Visa Waiver Program Requirements, http://www.dhs.gov/visa-waiver-program-requirements.

Aspiring VWP Countries

Source: Congressional Research Service (CRS), compiled from information from U.S. Travel and from CRS Report RL32221, Visa Waiver Program.

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