Published on: Nov 11, 2019, Last Edited: Nov 11, 2019
On November 6th 2019, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) confirmed that Polish passport holders will be able to apply for ESTA starting today, November 11th 2019. Poland will be the first country admitted to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) since 2014, when Chile was admitted. Poland will be the 39th country admitted to the Visa Waiver Program since its creation in 1986.
An approved ESTA will permit Polish passport holders to enter the United States for business, tourism or transit purposes for stays of up to 90 days. Individuals who are denied an ESTA can still apply for a visa if they wish to visit the United States.
Polish passport holders are now able to enjoy visa-free travel to the United States. Prior to this date, Polish passport holders were required to apply for a visa to visit the U.S. for tourism, transit or business purposes. The option of applying for an ESTA will save several weeks on travel authorization processing timelines, as a U.S. visa takes on average four weeks to process whereas an ESTA takes usually a few hours to obtain approval online. Furthermore, an ESTA provides much greater convenience in that the authorization is obtained via a brief online application without the need of filling in a DS-160 form, paying the $160 MRV fee and scheduling an embassy appointment.
Polish passport holders wishing to visit the United States on the VWP should familiarize themselves with the ESTA requirements before submitting an application. This will ensure they are prepared to accurately complete the form in a timely manner.
DHS recommends ESTA applications are submitted at least 72 hours before travel to the United States. However, applicants should submit their applications several weeks before their travel in case they are denied an ESTA and need to apply for a U.S. visa. Applying in advance for an ESTA will minimize travel disruption in the event the ESTA application is denied and a visa will be required for travel.
Polish passport holders can learn more about the differences between an ESTA and a visa to ensure they are applying for the right travel authorization for their travel purposes. Notably, a U.S. visa is typically issued for a period of 10 years and can be used for visits of up to 6 months per stay, whereas an ESTA is issued for a period of 2 years, or the date of passport expiry, and can only be used for visits of up to 90 days per stay.
Malaysia was seeking inclusion into the Visa Waiver Program in 2018 yet talks stalled with the U.S. government. Other countries seeking admission are Brazil, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Israel, Turkey and Romania. Argentina and Uruguay are seeking readmission, after being removed from the program in 2002 and 2003, respectively.