Israeli Nationals Are Eligible for the U.S. Visa Waiver Program Starting October 19, 2023
Effective immediately, Israeli nationals can now use the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP), allowing 90-day, visa-free visits for business or tourism by applying through ESTA 72 hours before travel. This expedited policy, initially set for November 30, simplifies entry for eligible Israelis, though some may still require a B visa due to past issues or if ineligible for the VWP.
Effective Immediately: Visa-Free Travel for Israeli NationalsEffective immediately, Israeli nationals are now eligible to apply for travel to the U.S. visa-free for business or pleasure under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
Early Eligibility DateThe effective date for Israeli eligibility to travel under VWP has been moved up from the previously announced date of November 30.
The Department of Homeland Security's AnnouncementThe Department of Homeland Security has announced that, effective today, Israeli nationals may apply for visa-free business or tourism travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The administration had previously announced that VWP travel for Israeli nationals would take effect by November 30.
Understanding the Visa Waiver Program
- Visa Waiver Program Overview The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without first obtaining a B visa. For B-1 business visitors, activities in the United States must conform to certain allowable B-1 business activities.
- ESTA Application Process To travel under the VWP, applicants must apply through the CBP online ESTA application up to 72 hours in advance of travel. ESTA authorizations are generally valid for two years, but foreign nationals must re-apply in certain circumstances, such as obtaining a new passport, a name change, or a change in circumstances that affects eligibility. ESTA authorizations are not a guarantee of admission to the United States; CBP makes an admissibility determination at the port of entry.
- What VWP Membership Means for Israeli Nationals and Their Employers Today’s announcement means that eligible Israeli business travelers and tourists will be able to avail themselves of the benefits of visa-free travel to the U.S. sooner than previously expected. Advance planning will remain important, however, as ESTA authorization takes at least 72 hours and can extend beyond that timeframe.
- Alternative Options Foreign nationals deemed ineligible for participation in the Visa Waiver Program by ESTA, perhaps due to prior law enforcement or immigration compliance issues, will generally need to apply for a B visa at a U.S. consulate. Israeli travelers with existing B-1/B-2 visas may continue to use those visas for visitor travel to the United States.