News Release from Jewell & Associates, PC - May 20, 2010 By the end of summer 2010, the paper arrival/departure form (Form I-94W) will be eliminated for visitors entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. Paper I-94s will continue to be issued to travelers entering the U.S. on visas.
As background, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), established in 1986, enables eligible citizens or nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. The program is administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). There now are 36 VWP countries. Since January 2009, VWP travelers have been required to get a clearance through the “ESTA” web site before boarding a carrier to the U.S. This clearance is usually instantaneous, but it can take up to 72 hours. Once the ESTA clearance is granted, it is valid for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires.
Because the web-based ESTA application consists of basic biographical and eligibility questions typically requested on a paper I-94W form, the paper form is being phased out -- reducing redundancy and enhancing the security of sensitive personal information. The VWP data collected through ESTA is stored electronically on secure servers that can be accessed by U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP) inspectors at U.S. ports of entry.
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