ESTA / Visa Waiver Program
Important Notice (Updated January 26, 2016):
Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, travelers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
- Nationals of VWP countries who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
- Nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
individuals will still be able to apply for a visa using the regular
appointment process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. For those who
require a U.S. visa for urgent business, medical, or humanitarian travel
to the United States, U.S. Embassies and Consulates stand ready to
handle applications on an expedited basis.
If an individual who is exempt from the Act because of his or her diplomatic or military presence in one of the four countries has his or her ESTA denied or revoked, he or she may go to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website, www.cbp.gov or contact the CBP Information Center, http://www.cbp.gov/contact. The traveler may also apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy Helsinki.
Certain other travelers who fall under this restriction may qualify for a waiver of the requirements. More information about possible waivers is forthcoming.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that any traveler to the United States check his or her ESTA status at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/ prior to making any travel reservations or travelling to the United States. More information is available at www.dhs.gov/visa-waiver-program.
Visa Waiver Program
Most Finnish travelers to the United States do not need a visa thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Finnish nationals are encouraged to use the VWP when they meet the criteria listed below:
- You are a Finnish citizen. If you hold dual nationality with Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan, you may not use the Visa Waiver Program.
- You hold your own Finnish passport* that is valid machine-readable e-passport
- You are traveling for business or tourism
- You will stay in the United States for 90 days or less
- You hold a return ticket to the country of departure
- You have proof of financial solvency
- You enter the United States aboard an air or sea carrier that has agreed to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (all major airlines are signatories), or over a land crossing as long as you can prove to the satisfaction of the U.S. immigration officials that your stay will be temporary in its nature.
- Note: If children are included in their parents’ passports, and do not have passports of their own, they do need to obtain appropriate category non-immigrant visas, even if the parents are in possession of valid machine-readable passports containing digital photograph. If children have their own machine-readable digitized passports, they can travel on a Visa Waiver Program, if the purpose of travel is pleasure or business, and the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program are met.
For more information about the Visa Waiver Program, please visit the US Department of State’s travel web page.
* New rules for the VWP require that each individual, even babies and children, carry their own e-passport to travel visa-free to the United States.
The VWP may also be used in lieu of a transit visa for persons traveling through the United States to another country. If otherwise qualified for the VWP, the individual does not need to get a visa for purposes of the transit through the US.
Some travelers may not be eligible for visa-free travel to the United States. Please review the following list of ineligibilities for the VWP program. If any of the items apply to you, please contact Consular Section - Visa Unit at HelsinkiNIV@state.gov
- A person with a criminal record
- A person whose US visa application has been refused
- A person who has been deported from the US
- A drug abuser/addict/trafficker
- A person with a mental or physical disorder that has or may in the future cause a threat to others or themselves
- A person connected with Nazi persecutions, or a person who has participated in genocide
- A person who has ever detained, retained or withheld custody of a child from a U.S. citizen granted custody of the child
- A person who has ever asserted diplomatic immunity
- A person with certain communicable disease (such as infectious tuberculosis)
- A person who has traveled to Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan since January 1, 2011. Government and military personnel who traveled to these countries on official business are exempt from this ineligibility
What are the passport requirements for travel under the Visa Waiver Program?
Visa Waiver Program requirements are:
- The passport must have a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.
- The passport must be an electronic passport with a digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner.
A photo of a machine-readable passport is available at the Frequently Asked Questions page.