On Monday, November 11, Poland became the newest country admitted to the Visa Waiver Program, which was authorized by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan on November 6.
Inclusion in the program requires that foreign countries meet certain criteria, including completing bilateral security agreements and meeting the mandatory B1/B2 (tourist and business visitor) visa refusal rates. The B1/B2 visa refusal rate for Poland was just under 3 percent at the end of fiscal year 2019. The approval of Poland’s entry to the Visa Waiver Program appears to have been expedited as the vetting process can take several months.
For Polish citizens wishing to travel to the United States, the B1/B2 visa application will be waived. Polish citizens traveling to the United States on passports embedded with computer chips will be able to spend up to 90 days in the United States for the purpose of tourism and business travel, provided they have Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), which can be applied for online for a $14.00 fee.
For Polish citizens wishing to engage in longer term work or study in the United States, the appropriate nonimmigrant work visa or student visa must be secured. Those denied ESTA will also need to apply for a B1/B2 visitor visa at a U.S. consular post. Polish citizens already holding B1/B2 visas may continue to use their visas for the purpose of travel to the United States.
Introduced in 1988, the Visa Waiver Program includes 38 countries: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and United Kingdom.
Canadians are visa-exempt and need not apply for ESTA or formal visitor visas for business or leisure and are admitted to the United States for the duration of six months upon each entry unless otherwise noted.
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