After more than two years of work to strengthen its airport security standards, Greece has been added to the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP enables nationals of 35 participating countries to travel to the U.S. as tourists or business visitors for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Now that Greece has been added to the VWP, Greek citizens will be able to visit the U.S. for tourist and business travel without visas in approximately 30 days. The list of participating VW countries currently includes Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Merino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. To be designated as a Visa Waiver country, strict security and information-sharing requirements must be met. Like VWP travelers from other countries, Greek visa waiver travelers will be required to apply for an Electronic System Travel Authorization (ESTA) through the Web-based system before boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea. VWP travelers can register online using the ESTA website at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The U.S. Department of State (DOS) has announced that effective January 20, 2010, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is transitioning to enforced compliance of the ESTA requirement for VWP travelers, and those travelers without approval through ESTA should expect to be denied boarding on any air carrier bound to the U.S. For this reason, we strongly advise our foreign national clients eligible for the VWP to register with the ESTA service as soon as possible. Although not required by DOS or DHS, we also encourage our VWP clients to print out the ESTA application response showing authorization and carry that with them during any visa waiver travel. Please do not hesitate to contact any of our immigration attorneys should you have questions regarding the ESTA registration process.
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