Immigration regulations for the USA

What you should consider

Find out what the immigration regulations for the USA are in plenty of time. Check to see whether you meet the requirements for visa-free immigration, as otherwise you will require a visa.

Requirements for visa-free immigration into the USA

Anyone who wishes to enter the USA must have a visa. Under certain conditions, passengers may enter without a visa. In order to do this, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You are a resident of a country that is a member of the Visa Waiver Programme and not affected by any exceptions.
  • Your passport must meet the criteria required by the USA
  • You hold an ESTA travel authorisation and are not affected by any exceptions.
  • You must have recorded your API details correctly and in good time

Member countries in the Visa Waiver Programme

There are currently 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Programme. Nationals from these countries may enter the USA without a visa and remain there for up to 90 days.

Exceptions: The Visa Waiver Programme does not apply to travellers who were in Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan on or after 1 March 2011. This is also the case if you are a dual national of one of these countries.

All eligible Visa Waiver Programme travellers must hold a biometric passport (e-chip) for travel as of April 1, 2016.

  • Andorra
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Chile
  • Czech Republic
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Latvia
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Singapore
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • United Kingdom

ESTA travel authorization

For visa-free immigration into the USA, it is essential that you have the ESTA electronic travel authorisation.You will not be allowed to enter the country without this document. You must apply for the travel authorisation at least 72 hours before departure. It is valid for two years and allows repeated entries into the country provided your passport does not expire during this period. You can update your details and travel destinations on the ESTA website at any time. There is a charge for these changes of US$ 14 per entry.

Exceptions: Any ESTA travel authorisations that have already been issued will become invalid if you were in Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan on or after 1 March 2011. This is also the case if you are a national of one of these countries.

Apply for ESTA travel authorisation or update data

API data collection

Airlines are obliged to transmit the details of all passengers to the US authorities on the day of departure. This is done using the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). The information that is recorded includes your name, passport number and the address where you will be staying in the USA. Specific and complete details will spare you any unpleasantness at your destination airport. The easiest thing to do is to transmit your data online in advance. If this is not possible, the details will be taken at the check-in machine or when you check-in at a counter.

Collect APIS details online

Transportation Security Administration (TSA)

Anyone entering the USA is obliged to provide their details to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This information is then compared with the "watch lists". These details consist of the full name, date of birth and gender (legal basis 49 U.S.C. item 114 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and 49 C.F.R parts 1540 and 1560). People who do not provide this information may be refused carriage or admission to the gate. Travellers with a redress number must provide it.

The TSA may compare the data you provide with data from penal facilities, news agencies and other authorities (in accordance with the published system of records notices).

You will find full information on the TSA privacy policy, the system of records notices and the data privacy compatibility assessments at