The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that, beginning November 1, 2012, Taiwan will be the latest country to be eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP enables eligible citizens of participating countries to enter the United States for business or tourism without obtaining a U.S. visa, and to stay up to a maximum period of 90 days, provided certain conditions are met. The current VWP members are: Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Czech Republic, Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; the Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; South Korea; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; and the United Kingdom. In 2011, travel pursuant to the VWP accounted for 18.3 million visits to the United States, representing more than 60 percent of tourism and business-related travel to the country.
As with all other VWP members, prior to travel to the United States, Taiwan VWP travelers will be required to apply for and receive advance travel authorization through the DHS Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). ESTA is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the VWP. Once granted, ESTA authorizations are generally valid for multiple entries into the United States over a period of two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first.