Skip Global Navigation to Main Content
Skip Breadcrumb Navigation
Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver Program

On October 2, 2012 the United States announced Taiwan’s designation for participation in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Under the VWP, eligible Taiwan passport holders will be able to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa, if certain requirements are met.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables eligible travelers from 37 participating countries[1]  to travel to the United States for business or tourism (for visitor [B] visa purposes of travel) for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. This period cannot be extended, nor can a VWP traveler change status, for example to a student visa, while in the United States. Travelers eligible for the VWP may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. In order to travel under the VWP, travelers must first receive travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) (if travel by air or sea), and must meet all eligibility requirements in advance of travel.

The U.S. government’s fee for an ESTA approved application is $14.  Third party websites that provide information about ESTA and submit ESTA applications for VWP travelers are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the U.S. government. If the website does not contain “.gov,” it is not the official ESTA website.  To visit the official ESTA website, please click here.

Frequently Asked Questions about the VWP and ESTA:

  • Who is eligible to travel under the VWP?

    Who is eligible to travel under the VWP?

    • Taiwan applicants who meet the following criteria may be eligible to travel under the VWP:

      • Travelers with a biometric Taiwan passport (called an e-passport) that was issued on or after December 29, 2008 and contains a National ID  number;

      • Travelers entering the United States for 90 days or less for the purposes of tourism or business (for visitor [B] visa purposes of travel).  Transit through the United States is generally permitted;

      • They have received an authorization to travel under the VWP through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA);

      • If arriving by air or sea, they are traveling on an approved carrier (see the approved carriers list (PDF, 230K) and have a return trip ticket to any foreign destination; and

      • They can demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the United States. Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries must meet the above eligibility requirements to travel without a visa, and therefore, some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to use the program.

  • Who needs to apply for a nonimmigrant visa, rather than an ESTA authorization?

    Who needs to apply for a nonimmigrant visa, rather than an ESTA authorization?

    • The following types of travelers are not eligible for travel under the VWP and need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa:

      Anyone whose purpose of travel is not consistent with business or tourist activities permitted under B-1/B-2 visa requirements, including:

      • Applicants who intend to work in the United States (either paid or unpaid). This includes working journalists or news media members, au-pairs, interns, musicians and other specific employment categories; 

      • Applicants who intend to study (F visas) or come to the United States on an exchange visitor program (J visas); 

      • Airline crew members or seamen who are transiting through the United States en route to another destination (C1/D visas); 

      • Applicants who enter the United States on private planes or on private yachts;

      • Applicants who will stay in the United States for business or pleasure for more than 90 days; and

      • Applicants who previously have been denied an ESTA authorization, or who have other immigration violations.

  • What information do I need to complete an ESTA application?

    What information do I need to complete an ESTA application?

    • Each application must contain, in English, biographical data including name, birth date, and passport information. The applicant must also answer VWP eligibility questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions for certain crimes, past history of visa revocation or deportation, and other questions. Children, regardless of age, are also required to obtain a separate ESTA approval. The traveler or applicant will also need credit or debit card information to pay the fees associated with the ESTA application.

  • Is there a fee for a travel authorization?

    Is there a fee for a travel authorization?

    • Yes. The amount of the fee depends upon whether the ESTA application is approved. The fee for an approved application is $14, and includes two parts:

      • $4 Processing Charge – All applicants requesting an electronic travel authorization are charged for the processing of each application submitted, regardless of whether the application is approved.

      • $10 Travel Promotion Act Fee – If your application is approved and you receive authorization to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, an additional $10 will be charged to your credit or debit card. This fee is credited to the Travel Promotion Fund. If your electronic travel authorization is denied, you are only charged for the processing of your application.

  • When should I apply for an ESTA authorization ?

    When should I apply for an ESTA authorization ?

    • You may submit your application at any time prior to travel. We recommend that you submit your travel authorization application as early as possible. VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA authorization. When you are preparing to travel to the United States, please keep in mind that your application may take up to 72 hours to process.

  • How long is an ESTA authorization valid?

    How long is an ESTA authorization valid?

    • ESTA travel authorizations are generally valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. Visit the ESTA FAQs on the CBP website to learn more about situations requiring a new ESTA travel authorization. A new ESTA travel authorization is required if the traveler is issued a new passport, changes his or her name, changes his or her gender, changes citizenship, or if any answer that the traveler previously gave when responding to questions into the ESTA application is no longer accurate. Otherwise, a visitor may travel to the United States repeatedly within the validity period without having to apply for another ESTA authorization.

  • I already have a valid B1/B2 visa. Do I need an ESTA authorization, too?

    I already have a valid B1/B2 visa. Do I need an ESTA authorization, too?

    • No. Travelers who already have a valid visitor visa will still be able to travel with that visa as long as you are still travelling for visitor (B) visa purposes and the visa is not expired or revoked. No ESTA authorization would be required in this case. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA authorization.

  • If I travel on the Visa Waiver Program to the United States and then visit Canada or Mexico, may I return to the United States using the Visa Waiver Program as well?

    If I travel on the Visa Waiver Program to the United States and then visit Canada or Mexico, may I return to the United States using the Visa Waiver Program as well?

  • I am a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States but I don’t travel to the U.S. very often. Should I give up my LPR status and travel to the U.S. under the VWP instead?

    I am a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States but I don’t travel to the U.S. very often. Should I give up my LPR status and travel to the U.S. under the VWP instead?

    • LPRs who plan to travel under the VWP may be required to wait for 4-6 weeks after completing the I-407 form before registering for ESTA authorization.  For more information about abandoning your permanent residence, please visit the Immigrant Visas section of our website.

  • I've been charged more than $14 for submitting my ESTA application, what should I do?

    I've been charged more than $14 for submitting my ESTA application, what should I do?

    • There are a number of third parties that have established websites that charge a fee for submitting your application on your behalf.  If you have used one of these third party sites, we strongly suggest you use your reference number to confirm with the official U.S. government site to ensure that your ESTA application is in our system.  We recommend you do this because we have no way of knowing if the information passed through the third party website to us is accurate. If it is not, you may have a problem when you arrive in the U.S.

      CBP cannot refund the money you paid to a third party website, however if you think you have been victimized, contact your bank or credit card company and request a refund of any amount over the $14.00 required by the U.S. government by disputing the add-on charges on your statement.

Notes

  • [1] With respect to all references to “country” or “countries”, it should be noted that the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979, Pub. L. No. 96-8, Section 4(b)(1), provides that “[w]henever the laws of the United States refer or relate to foreign countries, nations, states, governments, or similar entities, such terms shall include and such laws shall apply with respect to Taiwan.” 22 U.S.C. § 3303(b)(1). Accordingly, all references to “country” or “countries” in the Visa Waiver Program authorizing legislation, Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. 1187, are read to include Taiwan. This is consistent with the United States’ one-China policy, under which the United States has maintained unofficial relations with Taiwan since 1979.