What Is the Visa Waiver Program?

What Is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) – administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in consultation with the State Department – allows the citizens of 38 countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for 90 days and without a visa. These 38 countries also allow U.S. citizens and nationals to travel to their countries for an equivalent amount of time without a visa for business and tourism purposes.

Generally, nationals traveling from VWP countries are barred from filing for an “Adjustment of Status” to lawful permanent resident status (green card) or changing to another nonimmigrant status while in the United States. VWP travelers also must certify to the United States Custom and Border Protection (CBP) that they do not intend to stay in the United States.

Before visiting the United States, a VWP traveler must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

An ESTA is valid for two years; however, a traveler is required to obtain a new ESTA if they:

  • Receive a new passports, including an emergency or temporary passport;
  • Change their legal name;
  • Change their gender;
  • Change their country of citizenship; or
  • Need to change their responses to any of the yes/no questions on the ESTA application.

What Is the 30-60-90 Rule?

The 30-6-90 day rule states that if a foreign national files an immigration petition or applies for an Adjustment of Status within 30 days’ entry into the United States, the USCIS is likely to find that the national entered with fraudulent intentions to remain in the country. Also, if a foreign national applies for a change of status or Adjustment of Status after 30 days, but before 60 days after entry, the USCIS may assume that the applicant has a preconceived intent to enter as a nonimmigrant. The applicant may rebut this assumption with evidence demonstrating a change of circumstances.

Most nationals who come to the United States and apply for an Adjustment of Status or change of status are subject to the 30-60-90 day rule. However, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are excused from proving they do not possess a preconceived intent to immigrate. Immediate relatives can file for an Adjustment of Status within the 90-day period.

The following 3 classes of immediate relatives can file for a green card:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • The child of a U.S. citizen (under 21 years old and unmarried)
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen.

What If I Accidently Misrepresent My Case?

Per U.S. immigration laws, a foreign national “who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States” is inadmissible. An applicant who commits material misrepresentation or fraud could face a lifetime ban from entering the United States. This is significant, because the 30-60-90 day rule states that a consular officer may presume misrepresentation for actions within 90 days of entry, and can also determine if fraud existed after 90 days have passed.

Pursue Your Immigration Goals with Yekrangi & Associates

Navigating the Visa Waiver Program can be tricky, especially with the quickly evolving policies of the DHS under the current presidential administration. Fortunately, the experienced immigration attorneys at Yekrangi & Associates are here to help!

Call (949) 478-4963 or fill out an online form to discuss your case with the legal professionals at Yekrangi & Associates today.

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