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Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program enables citizens from certain countries to travel to United States for periods up to 90 days without obtaining visas. Currently 38 countries participate in the program. A complete list is available from the U.S. Department of State.

Important: All visitors coming under the VWP are required by law to obtain travel authorization prior to entering the United States. This authorization is obtained online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

VWP status allows the visitor to stay for a period of up to 90 days. No extensions are allowed. Change to another status within the U.S. is not allowed.

When planning for an overseas visitor who receives an honorarium payment or reimbursement of expenses, the hosting department should contact the MU nonresident alien taxation specialist in MU Human Resource Services for a preliminary review of the visitor's tax obligations. During the brief stay, the visitor also must meet with the specialist.

Entering the U.S. in VWP status

  1. Visitor receives a letter of invitation from the hosting MU department. The letter must include:
    • Statement of invitation
    • Exact dates of the visit
    • Purpose of the trip
    • Activities during visit
    • Funding source information (sample letter)
  2. Visitor obtains travel authorization through ESTA.
  3. Visitor enters the U.S.
  4. Visitor presents to the customs officer:
    • Passport
    • MU letter of invitation (sample letter)
    • Proof of funding/support

For the most current information, go to the U.S. Department of State website.

For more information about claiming tax benefits, tax treaty exemptions from withholding of federal tax, and payment for persons in visitor status (B-1, B-2, VWP and Canadians without documentation who are, nonetheless, in the U.S. for business or tourism purposes) and more, consult MU Human Resource Services.