Visa waivers and travel to and within the U.S. without a generally required visa

Participating Visa Waiver Countries

Participating Visa Waiver Countries

Non-citizens of the United States are welcome to travel to the U.S. with the traditional visitor (B) visa for specific purposes not including study for credit, employment, foreign press/media/journalism, or permanent residence in the U.S. The alternative to traveling a B visa is the visa waiver accompanied by a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (“ESTA”). The rules for visa waivers are strict and require compliance with the elements and processes for authorized travel to and within the U.S. without the traditionally required visa[i].

The elements and requirements for visa waivers can be complex and you may call the Law Offices of KiKi M. Mosley with any questions.

First, to be eligible to travel to the U.S. on a visa waiver, the applicant must be a citizen of one of the 37 visa waiver participant countries, most of which are developed countries with whom the U.S. communicates well with respect to nationalization and travel matters. Second, before applying for a visa waiver, the applicant must obtain a valid ESTA status to travel. The ESTA web page explains this web-based system used to determine eligibility to travel to the U.S.[ii] Third, the individual who wants to travel to the U.S. must do so by an approved air or sea carrier on a round trip ticket issued with a return date to the foreign nation within 90 days of arrival on U.S. soil if all the other requirements are met.

Permitted reasons for travel are generally business or traditional visitor and tourist activity. Business activities include consulting with business associates or negotiating contracts. Additionally, a business traveler might come to the U.S. on a visa waiver to attend a business industry conference or for the purposes of short term training, so long as it is not paid by a U.S. source because employment is not allowed on a visa waiver. Tourists and visitors may apply to travel on a visa waiver to see friends and relatives, for a U.S. vacation, to attend social events, attend sports or music events and even to obtain medical treatment. Short-term education courses can also be a basis to travel to the U.S., so long as they are not courses offering credit towards a degree. For your specific reason for travel and to make sure you do not make any mistakes, consulting with an attorney can help you make sure the desired travel is lawful and does not cause a future problem with travel to and with the U.S.

The U.S. Department of State and Homeland Security require strict compliance with all rules and processes, often requiring the assistance of a licensed immigration attorney.

Anyone traveling to the U.S. under any type of lawful permission such as a visa or visa waiver should be concerned about full compliance with U.S. law. If, for example, a previous visa application was denied, a subsequent application may be denied based on the first denial. Likewise, if an applicant previously traveled legally to the U.S. and experienced a compliance issue, that may be used to deny a later application to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. The correct valid type of passport from another issuing country is also important in the visa and waiver application processes. If an applicant only has one chance at getting the application approved it makes sense to hire an immigration attorney to review an application and advise the individual. Taking the extra effort to travel properly is important.

If you are planning a trip to the U.S. and think the visa waiver might be a good option, please inquire directly for more information. Attorney KiKi M. Mosley is licensed to practice law by the State of Illinois and Louisiana. She is skilled and experienced in complex immigration law issues and can help with the process of applying for and maintaining student visas. For more information about the law firm, please tap/click here to visit the rest of the website, and do not forget to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” on Twitter or Google Plus.


[i] U.S. Department of State: Visa Waiver Program website

[ii] U.S. Department of Homeland Security: Electronic System for Travel Authorization website

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