Visa Waiver Program and ESTA: definitions

Several nationalities are exempted from visa requirements for the USA under certain conditions. This exception is part of the Visa Waiver Program.

Countries in blue are part of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP)

Why apply for an ESTA if my nationality is one of those exempted from the visa requirement?

ESTA should not be confused with a visa. The ESTA is an authorisation that gives you the right to travel to the USA. Once there, you can benefit from visa exemption and enter the country.

Your airline must be a signatory to the Visa Waiver Program. On almost all commercial airlines, you don't have to worry about this. For private flights, the aircraft must be owned by a US company or a non-US operator with a US subsidiary.

At the border between the USA and its bordering countries (Canada, Mexico), the I-94W form will be replaced by the ESTA electronic authorization as of May 2, 2022!

Reasons for refusal of the Visa Waiver Program


You must be a national of one of the VWP member countries listed above. You must have a passport from one of these countries to apply for your ESTA electronic travel authorisation.

Length of stay

If you plan to stay in the USA for more than 90 days, you will not be eligible for the visa waiver and will have to apply for a traditional visa.

Purpose of the trip

If you are travelling for a purpose other than tourism, business or transit (such as working on US soil), the visa waiver does not apply to you. To obtain a job or internship in the USA, you will need a specific visa.

Other reasons

Even if you meet the various conditions mentioned above, the US immigration authorities are entitled to refuse you entry to the USA if one or more of the answers given to the ESTA questionnaire contravene the laws in force in that country. In some cases, you can still travel on a conventional visa.