ESTA Applications Open for Eligible Israeli Citizens & Nationals For Visa-Free Travel to US
Following Israel’s acceptance onto the US Visa Waiver Program, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced the beginning of visa-free travel for short-term trips to the United States for qualified Israeli citizens and nationals.
Through the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), eligible Israeli citizens and nationals may now begin requesting permission to enter the country as of today, Thursday, October 19, 2023.
Israel was formally accepted onto the US Visa Waiver Program on September 26, 2023, allowing qualifying travelers to apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through ESTA.
Israeli citizens and nationals with valid B-1/B-2 visas are still permitted to enter the United States on business and for pleasure.
Given the VWP is a reciprocal arrangement, Israel has formally pledged in writing that all Americans traveling with US passports are welcome to apply for entry into Israel without regard to their country of origin, religion, or ethnicity.
US ESTA & visa-free travel rules
Under the VWP, eligible travelers are allowed to visit the US for up to 90 days for tourism or business without first obtaining a US visa. VWP travelers must have a valid biometrically enabled passport.
ESTA is an automated system that helps determine if a person is eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program and whether such journey would present a risk to law enforcement or national security. Travelers are informed of their ability to enter the US under the VWP after submitting an ESTA application.
For some travelers, such as those who want to stay in the United States for longer than 90 days or who believe they may want to extend their stay or change their status once in the country, the appropriate visa should be secured.
Before granting permission to travel to the US, DHS verifies travelers using the application data. Information about people who are known or suspected of breaking the law as well as other people who should be taken into consideration, will be given to the relevant law enforcement, national security, and/or counterterrorism agency as part of this screening procedure.
Travelers using temporary, emergency, or non-biometric travel documents, as well as those from nations not included in the Visa Waiver Program, are not permitted to rely on ESTA for entry into the USA, and must instead apply for a visa to enter the United States.
Travelers using the Visa Waiver Program who intend to stay in the country for more than 90 days may be found to be ineligible. Under the Visa Waiver Program, admission to the United States will be denied to those who are found to be ineligible. Additionally, people admitted through the Visa Waiver Program who remain longer than allowed will be removed from the program and will no longer be permitted to travel through it in the future.
How to apply for ESTA
ESTA is an online application form costing $21 per applicant. Applications for ESTA are made at esta.cbp.dhs.gov or downloaded via the iOS App Store or Google Play Store as the “ESTA Mobile” app.
All travelers seeing visa-free entry must apply and secure ESTA authorization, including children.
ESTA application processing can take up to 72 hours.
The ESTA application will initially only be available in English, but it will also be made available in additional languages by November 1, 2023.
US immigration advice
We continue to monitor developments in US immigration policy and procedures. If you have any queries or concerns about system changes, and the impact on your US immigration options and status, speak to our US immigration specialists.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.