Advantages and Disadvantages of Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Advantages and Disadvantages of Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Nationals of the countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are not required to hold a B visa in order to be admitted to the U.S. if they arrive for business or pleasure for a period of up to 90 days.

List of countries currently participating in VWP:

Andorra Hungary Norway
Australia Iceland Portugal
Austria Ireland San Marino
Belgium Italy Singapore
Brunei Japan Slovakia
Chile Latvia Slovenia
Czech Republic Liechtenstein South Korea
Denmark Lithuania Spain
Estonia Luxemburg Sweden
Finland Malta Switzerland
France Monaco Taiwan
Germany Netherlands United Kingdom
Greece New Zealand


To qualify to participate in VWP, a country must meet some legislatively established requirements. The two most important are:

The refusal rate for nonimmigrant visitor visa applications for nationals of the country is less than 3% for the previous two fiscal years; and

The incidence of nationals of the country traveling as nonimmigrant visitors who are denied admission, withdraw their application and violate the terms of a VWP admission is less than 2% of the total number of nonimmigrant nationals traveling to the U.S. during the previous fiscal year.

In addition, the country must provide a visa-free access to United States citizens. Also, as of April 1, 2016, all travelers must have an e-passport to use the VWP.  An e-Passport, is an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip.


Advantages of VWP:

Visitors for business or pleasure who are citizens of country participating in the VWP, do not need to apply for B visa at the US consulate abroad.  Accordingly, they do not need to be interviewed by the consular officer and pay $160 visa application fee.

Visitors admitted to the US under the VWP may take a short trip to Canada, Mexico, or a nearby island and generally be readmitted to the US under the VWP for the remainder of the original 90 days granted upon their initial arrival in the US.


Disadvantages of VWP:

Foreign nationals coming for a B-1 or B-2 purpose receives a WB or WT status for a period of 90 days only. No extension is allowed.

For any other purposes of their trip (for example to study in the U.S.), visitors must apply for a specific visa at the U.S. Consulate in their country.

Visitors are not eligible for change of status (for example change to H or F classification), or adjustment of status in the U.S. (unless it is on basis of an immediate relative petition).

By entering on VWP, foreign national certifies to the CBP officer agent that he/she does not intend to stay in the U.S. According to the 90-day rule announced by the Department of State in September 2017, a foreign national is presumed to misrepresent his/her nonimmigrant intent if she/he marries in the US and takes up permanent residence within 90 days of arrival.  So, although foreign national is eligible to apply for adjustment of status based on marriage to the US citizen, there is a risk of creation a presumption of fraud that can significantly delay the adjustment application or lead to its denial.

WB/WT visitors can be removed from the U.S. without a removal hearing.


Limitations on VWP introduced by Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015:

Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iraq, Iran, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen at any time on or after March 1, 2011, and those nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan, are no longer eligible to be admitted to the US under VWP.  

To sum up, in certain situations it is more beneficial for a foreign national to enter the US on B-1 or B-2 visa, rather than on visa waiver program.  For anyone considering a longer stay in the US, or changing the purpose of the stay, entering on VWP is not recommended.

For more information about the Visa Waiver Program, please visit:

This article is intended solely for information purposes and should in no way be construed as legal advice. If you have any questions or are unclear on any of the subject matters addressed or discussed in this article, please consult a licensed legal professional.