Israel Added to Visa Waiver Program Effective Immediately

October 20, 2023
Marjorie M. Filice

Israel is now a part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), allowing Israeli citizens to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa. Originally scheduled to go into effect on November 30, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security moved up the date of membership to October 19, 2023, meaning Israeli citizens can apply for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) effective immediately.

What is the Visa Waiver Program

  • The VWP allows individuals from participating countries to visit the United States for 90 days or less for tourism or business purposes without obtaining a visa. Originally created in 1986, the program now has 41 enrolled countries.
  • Participating countries commit to a series of program requirements to ensure security and respect of U.S. immigration laws, including biometric passports and sharing of information on lost or stolen passports.
  • The VWP requires “reciprocal privileges to citizens and nationals of the United States.” American citizens can already enter Israel for tourism or business without a visa.
  • The United States and all VWP countries reserve the right to deny entry to anyone due to security concerns.

How to Apply for the Visa Waiver Program

  • Israeli citizens, along with other VWP participants, will be able to us the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) to apply online for travel authorization to the United States.
  • The ESTA is free and easy to use.
  • Applicants will receive a response within 72 hours.
  • Acceptances are valid for 2 years, and allow multiple visits of up to 90 days.
  • Note that ESTA is only available to Israeli citizens with a 10-year biometric passport. Those without these specific passports can continue to use the visa application system already in place, which involves in-person visit to embassies in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
  • Any Israeli citizen with a valid B-1/B-2 may also continue using those for their travel.

If you have questions about the Visa Waiver Program, please do not hesitate to contact our office at (312) 427-6163.

The material contained in this alert does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only. An attorney-client relationship is not presumed or intended by receipt or review of this presentation. The information provided should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.

© 2023 Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C. All rights reserved. Information may not be reproduced, displayed, modified, or distributed without the express prior written permission of Minsky, McCormick & Hallagan, P.C.

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