Visa Waiver Program (ESTA Form)
The Visa Waiver Program (ESTA form) allows foreigners from certain wealthy countries to visit the U.S. without a visa, by simply showing a valid passport at a US port of entry. Prior to travel, go online and complete an ESTA form. If approved, book a flight and come.
The VWP allows foreigners to remain in the US for up to 90 days at a time. Since the VWP grants easy access to the U.S., it cannot generally be converted to other visas, such as student or work visas. You visit the U.S. and must depart on time.
ESTA Potential Issues
Common problems with the VWP include the following. Any of them can result in a bar from the U.S.
- Multiple entries too quick suggest the foreigner is attempting to remain in the U.S. more than 90 days by returning quickly after departing the U.S. As a rule of thumb, the foreigner should spend more than half the time outside the U.S. each year. The longer you stay, the longer you must be away.
- The foreigner does not answer questions on the form truthfully.
- The foreigner has the intent to use the VWP as a means of marrying in the U.S., then remaining to try to obtain a green card.
A problem with multiple entries too quick is that a border agent can become suspicious the true intent of the visit is either to work illegally or visit a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Visits are for spending money on tourism. There is little advantage to the U.S. government in allowing visits for romance.
The foreigner may want to immigrate based on marriage. Typically, wealthy people have a better chance at quick successive entries on the VWP than those with less money since wealthy travelers are more likely to spend money in the U.S. When a CBP border agent blocks entry due to multiple visits, the agent will probe for misrepresentation regarding the reasons for the visit.
Failing to answer questions truthfully on the ESTA form or at a border checkpoint is grounds for a permanent bar from the U.S. It’s important that the reasons for visiting the U.S. be stated honest. Failing to admit crimes is about the second most common reason for a bar based on misrepresentation.
The most common reason for a bar is an undisclosed intent to marry a US citizen while on the VWP, and then apply to adjust status to become a permanent U.S. resident green card holder. The ruse can be caught at the border check, or it can also be caught at the green card interview after marriage. Fraud agents are good about data mining and reviewing the circumstances prior to travel on the VWP to examine whether there was preplanning.
Countries Participating in the VWP (March 2016)
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
Call for Assistance — If you have a foreign fiancee or spouse and are interested in possible marriage and immigration to the U.S., I encourage you to contact me for further assistance. Also, if you have been barred from the U.S. for misrepresentation, I may be able to help.