DHS Opens Applications for Visa-Free U.S. Travel for Eligible Israelis.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has officially launched the process for visa-free travel to the United States for short-term visits by eligible Israeli citizens and nationals. This move comes after Israel’s recent inclusion in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Commencing on Thursday, October 19, eligible individuals from Israel can now apply for travel authorization through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

On September 26, 2023, DHS, in collaboration with the Department of State, welcomed Israel into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, enabling eligible travelers to apply online for authorization via ESTA. Successful applicants receive authorization for tourism or business visits to the U.S. lasting up to 90 days without the need for a U.S. visa. Israeli citizens and nationals possessing valid B-1/B-2 visas may continue using them for business and tourist travel to the United States.

Participation in the Visa Waiver Program requires reciprocity, and Israel has committed to allowing U.S. citizens entry without regard to national origin, religion, or ethnicity. The United States monitors compliance with program requirements by all participating countries, including Israel.

Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals must hold a biometrically enabled passport book. Those with non-biometric, temporary, or emergency travel documents or from non-Visa Waiver Program-designated countries are ineligible and should apply for a U.S. visa. ESTA applications, which may take up to 72 hours for processing, are currently available in English, with other language options expected by November 1, 2023.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system assessing eligibility and potential law enforcement or security risks for U.S. Visa Waiver Program travel. Upon completion of an ESTA application, travelers receive notification of their eligibility. DHS employs the application data for pre-travel vetting, sharing relevant information with law enforcement, national security, and counterterrorism agencies.

Individuals exceeding the 90-day limit may be deemed inadmissible to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. Overstays result in removal and render individuals ineligible for future Visa Waiver Program travel. Travelers with intentions of staying longer than 90 days or considering extensions or status changes may find traditional visa options more suitable.

Source: DHS