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VISA Waiver Program - ESTA Authorization
 

THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAM

These webpages will help you learn if you can travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program with the ESTA authorization. 

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa, as long as they meet specific requirements.

By carefully reading this page and answering the following four questions, you will learn if you meet all requirements to travel under the Visa Waiver Program.

If you are traveling with your children , please read the paragraph about “Individual passports” at the end of this page. 

1) First of all, your nationality:

QUESTION: Are you a national of Italy or of a Visa Waiver Program Country?

The Visa Waiver Program Countries are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and The United Kingdom.

YES
NO

If you are a national of Italy or any other Visa Waiver Program Country, go to the next question.

If you are not a national of one of the Visa Waiver Program Countries, you will need a visa to travel to the United States.

Please read the page entitled "Nonimmigrant Visas" to learn what type of visa you need and how to apply.

 

2) The purpose of your travel to the United States:

Question: Are you traveling to the U.S. for tourism and/or business, or for transit to another destination?

YES
NO

If you are traveling to the U.S. for tourism and/or business, or for transit to another destination, go to the next question.

Visa Waiver Program travelers can go to the U.S. for tourism and/or business, or for transit to another destination only. If the purpose of your travel is different, such as, for example, taking classes at University or participating in cultural exchanges, you will need a visa to travel to the United States..

Please read the page entitled "Nonimmigrant Visas" to learn what type of visa you need and how to apply.

 

3) The duration of your stay:

Question: Are you planning to stay in the U.S. for less than 90 days??

YES
NO

If you plan to stay in the U.S. for less than 90 days, go to the next question.

If you plan to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days, you will need a B1/B2 visa. Please visit the page on how to apply for this type of visa.

 

4) Your passport:

Recent regulations allow only certain travelers to go to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, depending on the type of passport they hold and its issuance/renewal date.

You can check if your passport is valid for travel under the VWP by carefully reading the following pages. Click on the sample pictures to get a bigger image of the different types of passports.

Question: What kind of passport do you have?

"Electronic" Passport
(click on the image for a description)
If you hold an e-Passport you don’t need a visa to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

"ELECTRONIC" Passports

The new Italian "e-Passports" contain an electronic chip and are easy to identify because they carry the International e-Passport symbol on the front cover:

E-Passports have an integrated computer chip that stores biometric information of the holder. The chip allows faster data acquisition during the inspection process at ports of entry.

The data page, which includes the photograph of the holder, is similar to that of photo digitized passports, except that the "ghost image" is now located in the top right corner of the data page. The chip is embedded in the passport and is invisible. The front cover of the passport carries the e-Passport symbol and looks like the picture on the left.

In Italy, these passports have been issued starting October 26, 2006.


 

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"Photo Digitized" Passport
(click on the image for a description)
If you hold a photo digitized passport issued before 26 October 2006, you don’t need a visa to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

"PHOTO-DIGITIZED" Passports

Sample of a photo digitized passport:

(1) Machine-readable bands
Like in older machine-readable passports, there are two optical bands at the bottom of the data page.

(2) Digital Photo
The digital photo is printed directly on the page, not glued or laminated onto the passport.

(3) Reproduction of the Photo
The digital photo of the holder is digitally reproduced as a faded image on the background of the data page.

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"Machine-readable" Passport
(click on the image for a description)

If your machine-readable passport was issued before October 26, 2005, and –if renewed- it was renewed before October 26, 2005, you don’t need a visa to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

If your Machine-readable passport was issued or renewed on or after October 26, 2005 you need a visa for travel to the United States. Keep in mind that if you renew this type of passport you will be required to apply for a visa in order to travel to the United States.

"MACHINE-READABLE" Passports

Sample of an Italian machine-readable passport:

Two Optical Bands
You can recognize a machine-readable passport by the two optical bands containing a set of number and letter characters underneath the photo.

The information contained on these bands can be read by a machine-readable-device at ports of entry.

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"Non Machine-readable" Passport
(click on the image for a description)

You will not be allowed to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) on a non machine-readable passport. You will need to obtain a visa OR the new e-passport. Additional information can be found at:"Nonimmigrant visas".

"NON MACHINE-READABLE" Passports

Sample of a non machine-readable passport:

The photo of the bearer is glued on the upper left-hand corner of the second page.


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ELECTRONIC SYSTEM FOR TRAVEL AUTHORIZATION (ESTA)

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel to the United States, and VWP travelers are encouraged to apply for authorization as soon as they begin to plan a trip to the United States.

To access and complete the ESTA registration, please visit the ESTA website at the following address: www.cbp.gov/esta. Travelers from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries will be required to pay a fee of $14.00 when applying for an electronic travel authorization (ESTA- Electronic System for Travel Authorization).

All payments for electronic travel authorization applications must be made by credit card or debit card when applying for or renewing an ESTA at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

In most cases, ESTA will provide an almost immediate determination of eligibility for travel under the VWP:

1.Authorization Approved: travel authorized

2.Travel Not Authorized: Traveler must obtain a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to the U.S.

3.Authorization Pending: Traveler will need to check the ESTA website for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.

An approved ESTA travel authorization is:

  • Valid, unless revoked, for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first;
  • valid for multiple entries into the U.S. As future trips are planned, or if an applicant’s destination
  • not a guarantee of admissibility to the United States at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP. In all cases, CBP officers make admissibility determinations at our ports of entry.

Learn more about ESTA and other VWP changes on:

  • the DHS Customs and Border Protection (CBP) ESTA webpages (in English)
  • the State Department Visa Waiver Program webpages (in English)

Important note: If your passport has ever been reported lost or stolen to the authorities and then recovered, please do not attempt to use it for travel to the United States. If you input the passport details into ESTA, your application will be denied. Please consider replacing your passport, if applicable, or seek a visa.

VWP travelers who do not apply for and receive travel authorization via ESTA prior to travel may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Individual Passports

To travel under the Visa Waiver Program, each traveler must have his or her own passport.

If you are traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) with your children, each child must have their own individual passport, which must meet the requirements listed above.

Children who appear in their parents’ passport must have a visa to travel to the United States.

How to apply for a new passport

Information on how to obtain a new Italian passport is available on the Polizia di Stato website (in Italian).

Visa Waiver Program - Additional Information

Additional information on the Visa Waiver Program is available on the Department of State "Visa Waiver Program" webpages.

Six Month Club requirements:

As a general rule, passports must be valid for six months beyond the date the traveler will exit the U.S., however, the U.S. has signed agreements with a number of countries to waive this requirement. When such an agreement is in place, the passport must be valid for the entire period of the visitor's intended stay, but the additional six month validity period is not required.

If a U.S. visa has been issued on a passport that has expired, you should carry both your new passport and the expired passport containing your valid visa. There is no need to re-apply for a new visa unless the visa term has itself expired

*Lawful permanent residents (LPRs), refugees, and asylees will continue to be able to use their Alien Registration Card (Form I-551), issued by DHS, or other valid evidence of permanent residence status or refugee or asylee status to apply for entry to the United States.