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US Immigration: Israel added to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

On September 27, 2023, the Department of Homeland Security announced that Israel will be the 41st country added to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), permitting citizens and nationals of Israel to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

The VWP permits citizens and nationals of participating countries to travel and enter the US for tourism or limited business purposes for trips of up to 90 days or less without obtaining a visa stamp at an Embassy or Consulate. Applicants must meet specific requirements, and apply and obtain a valid ESTA approval ahead of the travel. Approved ESTAs are generally valid for up to two years. Applicants can re-apply if they still meet all the requirements and must re-apply earlier if their circumstances have changed, for example: eligibility, name, or passport. Applicants may apply for a B-1/2 (same permitted US activities and length of stay) if preferred, instead of an ESTA. The VWP is seen as a security, economic, and personal tie between the US and a foreign country and the addition of a new country indicates close cooperation and increased shared interests- leading to a stronger strategic partnership on all fronts.

By November 30, 2023, the ESTA will be updated to add Israel, simplifying travel for Israeli citizens and nationals. Israelis with valid B-1/2 visas can continue using them. After expiration or change of circumstances, they can then apply for their initial ESTA or re-apply for another B-1/2. This update will simplify travel to the US for Israeli nationals and citizens.

As a reminder, a valid visa or an approved ESTA does not guarantee admission to the United States. CBP makes admissibility determinations at the port of entry upon each trip.

For more information, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a press release on the update (DHS- Secretary Mayorkas and Secretary Blinken Announce Designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program). For more information on the VWP and ESTA: Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (

Should you have any questions relating to this change, please contact Aryanah Eghbal ([email protected]) and Mairin Hoban ([email protected]).


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