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Reminder: Electronic Passports Now Required for Visa Waiver Travel

13 May

Beginning April 1, 2016, travelers to the U.S. for business or leisure who are eligible for visa-free travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) must have an electronically readable passport in order to be admitted under the VWP. Electronic passports, or e-Passports, are enhanced with an embedded security chip that securely stores information about the passport and passport holder. VWP eligible travelers who do not hold an e-Passport can continue to travel to the U.S. only with a nonimmigrant visa obtained from a U.S. consulate abroad.

VWP eligible travelers should remember that they must first register their travel and receive authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Travelers will need to submit new ESTA applications if previous authorization has expired or if certain key information has changed since their last approval.

As peak summer travel season approaches, clients should review their travel documents and take steps in advance of international travel to avoid or minimize disruptions in their travel schedule, or delays in their ability to reenter the United States in the appropriate classification. As a preliminary travel planning step, summer travelers should make sure they have a valid passport that will be valid for use on both their departure and return dates and double-check the rules regarding passport validity and other document requirements in the destination country well in advance of their departure.

As always, Foster attorneys are available to answer specific travel-related questions and provide additional information regarding the requirements for international travel. Foster will continue to monitor changes impacting eligibility for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and will make additional information available in future Immigration Updates© and on our firm’s website at www.fosterglobal.com.