Travel Association pushes for expansion of American Visa Waiver Program

- Posted in America by Visa Bureauon 08 December 2011

At the moment, anyone holding a passport from a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) country does not need to apply for an American visa when travelling to the United States (though they WILL need to apply for an ESTA - the Electronic System for Travel Authorization - before embarking on their journey).

There are currently 36 countries that are part of the VWP, but Roger Dow of the US Travel Association is keen for the Program to be expanded.

Speaking in Congress recently, Dow said: "Since its creation in 1986, the VWP has been an invaluable instrument of U.S. national security and public diplomacy and is also critical to our nation's economic health."

"It is difficult to exaggerate the benefits to the United States of reciprocal 90-day, visa-free travel with the 36 countries that currently qualify for visa waiver status," he continued.

In 2010, travellers from VWP countries were the largest source of inbound overseas arrivals to the United States, with over 17 million visitors. While in the United States, these visitors spent nearly $61 billion, supporting 433,000 American jobs along with $12 billion in payroll and generating $9 billion in tax revenues.

"The opportunities that would result from expanding the program to key emerging economies are staggering," said Dow. "As the Subcommittee reviews the program, we urge you to reflect on these benefits to our foreign policy, homeland security and economy that comprised the original rationale for creating the Visa Waiver Program."

The American Visa Bureau is an independent migration consultancy specialising in helping people from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries make their ESTA application.