Virginia, US

Nov 06 2019

Polish Nationals Eligible for B Visa Waiver Program Starting November 11

United States

At a glance

  • Starting November 11, Polish nationals will be able to apply for travel to the United States as B-1/B-2 visitors under the Visa Waiver Program. If deemed eligible, they will not need a visa from a U.S. consulate for their business visitor or tourist travel.
  • Visa Waiver applicants must submit their applications at least 72 hours in advance of travel using the online application system, Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). 
  • Business visitors under the Visa Waiver Program are permitted to engage in allowable B-1 business activities in the United States for no more than 90 days.

The issue

Nationals of Poland will be soon be eligible to apply for visa-free business or tourist visitor travel to the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced today in coordination with the State Department. Starting November 11, Poland will be added to the list of 38 countries already in the B-1 Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and Polish nationals will be able to apply for visa-free visitor travel through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Visa Waiver Program generally

The Visa Waiver Program permits citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without first obtaining a B visa. For B-1 business visitors, activities in the United States must conform to the standard allowable B-1 business activities.

To travel under the VWP, applicants must apply through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) online application, Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) up to 72 hours in advance of travel

ESTA authorizations are generally valid for two years, but foreign nationals must re-apply in certain circumstances such as obtaining a new passport, changing a name or a change in circumstances that affects eligibility. ESTA authorizations are not a guarantee of admission to the United States; CBP makes an admissibility determination at the port of entry.

What this means

Eligible Polish nationals and their employers will benefit from eased requirements on business visitor travel to the United States as a result of Poland’s inclusion in the VWP. Advance planning will remain important, however, as ESTA authorization takes at least 72 hours and can extend beyond that timeframe. Applications from Polish nationals will be accepted by ESTA only starting November 11.

Foreign nationals deemed ineligible for participation in the Visa Waiver Program by ESTA, perhaps due to prior law enforcement or immigration compliance issues, will generally need to apply for a B visa at a U.S. consulate. 

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.