When non-US citizens want to visit America, they will often need to obtain a visa first. However, there is a way for some citizens or nationals of certain countries to visit the United States for short-term stays of less than 90 days for business or leisure purposes, thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Currently, more than 40 countries worldwide are VWP-designated countries, with Israel being one of the newest additions to the list. Now that Israel is part of the VWP, Israeli citizens can travel to the United States visa-free as long as they meet certain requirements, such as having a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
What is the Visa Waiver Program?
When people who are not US citizens want to visit the United States, they often have to obtain a visa first. However, if a traveler is a citizen or national of a VWP-designated country, they will be able to enter the United States without a visa. But there are specific requirements that must be met, including:
- The traveler must be a citizen or national of a VWP-designated country.
- The traveler must have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
- The traveler must have a passport with at least 6 months of validity after their planned departure date from the United States of America.
- The traveler must have an e-passport.
When Was Israel Added to the Visa Waiver Program?
Countries are added to the VWP from time to time, but not very often. Israel was the most recent country to be added to the VWP and was only just added to the list. Israel was officially added to the VWP on September 26, 2023, becoming the 41st country to join. This means that citizens or nationals of Israel can now travel to the United States without having to obtain a visa first, as long as they meet specific requirements.
What is an Electronic System for Travel Authorization?
An Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is something that all travelers need if they want to visit the United States without a visa on the VWP. ESTA determines if a traveler is eligible to travel to the United States on the VWP for business or leisure purposes. It’s important to note that you must obtain ESTA before you can board any United States-bound seacraft or aircraft.
What Are Some Other VWP Designated Countries?
There are many different countries included in the Visa Wavier Program. In fact, as of November 30th, 41 countries are included in the VWP. Israel was the most recent country to be added to the list, though many countries have been part of the VWP for a long period of time. Some other VWP-designated countries include:
- New Zealand
Can Travelers From Non-VWP Designated Countries Visit the USA?
If you are a citizen or national of a country that is not a Visa Waiver Program designated country, you can most likely still visit the United States. Although, you may have to complete a few extra steps. Most of the time, if you are not from a VWP-designated country, you will need to obtain a visa before heading to the USA. This includes if you will be coming to the United States as a student, for business purposes, or for leisure purposes.
Do Americans Need a Visa to Go to Israel?
A question we frequently get asked is if Americans need a visa to go to Israel. In short, no. American citizens do not need to obtain a visa to go to Israel for stays less than 90 days. If you want to visit Israel for more than 90 days or plan on visiting the country multiple times in a year, you will need to obtain a visa. Please note that although American citizens may not need to get a visa for Israel, they do need to get a passport. If you need help getting a passport, please visit our website to get the process started.