U.S adds Sierra Leone, 9 other countries to its Visa Waiver Program
The U.S Department of State has announced the addition of ten more countries to the U.S Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, said that this development is part of series of transformations the program is going through.
The ten countries announced saw Argentina and Uruguay rejoining the program after they were removed in 2002 and 2003 respectively.
The ten countries are Argentina, Uruguay, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Malaysia, Jamaica, Hong Kong, Seychelles, Cayman Islands and Georgia.
When it takes effect, nationals included in the program traveling to the United States, would be permitted a stay of a maximum period of 180 days for Tourism or Business purposes only. Stay over 180 days would therefore require a visa, Mike Pompeo said.
Mike added that the new countries joining the program which will be taking effect at a date yet to be announced, have demonstrated beyond doubt their ability to protect their borders, raise human development index, and maintain a good passport index.
Nationals included in the program are required to apply for a travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) online before departure to the United States, preferably at least 72 hours (3 days) in advance.
However, nationals who hold dual nationality will be required to obtain visas if their other passport is from Syria, Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen.
Since 2016, the visa waiver does not apply in cases where a person had previously traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 or for those who are dual citizens of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria. Certain categories such as diplomats, military, journalists, humanitarian workers or legitimate businessmen may have their visa requirement waived by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a program of the United States Government which allows citizens of specific countries to travel to the United States for tourism, business, or while in transit for up to 90 days without having to obtain a visa. The program applies to the United States as well as the US territories of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in the Caribbean, with limited application to other US territories.
Countries that are already enjoying the program are: