Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986, provided that the nationals of eight countries could come to the United States without obtaining a B-1 (Business) or B-2 (Tourist) visa. Since then, other countries have been added to the Visa Waiver program.
Under this program, an individual who is a national of a participating country (regardless of place of residence or point of embarkation) may seek admission provided that he/she:
- Seeks admission for a period not to exceed 90 days;
- Possesses a passport that meets VWP requirements.
- Has obtained approval via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours prior to travel to the United States
- Has an onward or return trip ticket which will transport the individual out of the United States and the contiguous areas of Canada and Mexico, and adjacent islands in the Caribbean - unless the individual is a resident of the contiguous areas or adjacent islands; and
- Arrives aboard a carrier that has signed an agreement with the U.S. government to participate in the VWP.
The individual must still also meet all eligibility requirements, funding, and documents to obtain Business Visitor status.
When being admitted into the United States, the foreign scientist should request that the DHS Immigration Inspector provide an entry date-stamp in the passport to indicate “WB” (Visa Waiver for Business) as his/her immigration status and include the period of admission specified in the UMMC sponsor's letter of invitation (not to exceed 90 days). To assist the DHS inspector, the scientist should present the letters from UMMC host, and the home country employer (if applicable).
Please note that those admitted in WB status are not issued a Form I-94; the entry date-stamp from the passport is acceptable evidence of admission in WB status.
DHS officials may erroneously annotate “WT” rather than “WB.” Such an error may prevent the scientist from participating in the business activities.
WB Visitors must depart the United States on or before the expiration date listed on their entry date-stamps in the passport. There is no grace period for individuals in WB status. Failure by the Business Visitor to depart will result in an unlawful overstay.
There are several very important restrictions that apply to those who come under the VWP. Most important are that once in the United States an individual cannot apply for:
- A change of immigration status, or
- For an extension of stay in the United States beyond the 90-day limit under the VWP.
Therefore, if there is any intention that the individual will remain at UMMC beyond 90 days, he/she should apply for a B-1 visa at the U.S. Consulate in the home country and enter the United States in B-1 status.
WT status is NEVER appropriate for ANY foreign scientist carrying out research activities in UMMC’s laboratories for any period of time under any circumstances. An individual coming to UMMC for an interview, who was admitted to the U.S. in WT status, CANNOT be reimbursed for travel or per diem expenses.
Countries participating in the VWP
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom