Beginning October 23, 2021, Croatian citizens are allowed to travel to the United States for tourism and business purposes without having to obtain a visa. Instead, Croatians willing to travel to the US must obtain approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours before their planned trip.
The visa waiver came into effect following an official decision by the US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas and the US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. The decision, that was announced on September 30th, included Croatia in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP is a wide-ranging security partnership between the United States and designated countries that facilitates international travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes without a visa for up to 90 days. In order to participate in the VWP, a country must meet requirements related to counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management on an ongoing basis. There is also a requirement that for a country to join the VWP, it has to have a rate of nonimmigrant visa refusals below 3%. That is in addition to issuing secure travel documents and working closely with U.S. authorities in fighting organized crime and terrorism.
What happens if I am a Croatian citizen with a valid B1/B2 visitor visa?
Any traveler that currently has a valid B1/B2 visa can continue to use it and does not need to apply for ESTA. The advantages of using a valid B1/B2 visa as compared to ESTA include the ability to stay in the US for up to 6 months, as determined by the immigration officer at the port of entry, instead of the 90 days under ESTA. Another advantage to using a valid B1/B2 is the ability of the holder to change or extend status, should his or her circumstances change, while ESTA does not allow for a change of status.
So, if I am a Croatian citizen how do I travel to the US without a visa for tourism and/or business purposes?
To travel without a visa to the US, a Croatian citizen must have a passport with embedded computer chip and must obtain an ESTA. To apply for ESTA, one must register at the official ESTA application site: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/ The application currently costs only $14, and, if approved, the ESTA authorization is valid for up to 2 years for multiple entries to the United States. If a Croatian citizen is denied authorization under ESTA, he or she can still apply for a B1/B2 visitor visa.
The maximum stay in the US under visa waiver program is 90 days for each entry and is only for tourism and business purposes, not including employment in the United States. Keep in mind that working remotely in the US, even for a company from another country, or working for one’s own company is not allowed under ESTA.
Croatian citizens who wish to travel in the United States and stay longer than 90 days, or who wish to engage in activities such as work or to study in school or university still need to apply for the appropriate visa category. If you are one of a Croatian citizen that needs to obtain a work, student or investor visa, please contact us, your trusted immigration lawyer in Miami, Florida USA or directly schedule an appointment with an attorney.
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