On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the start of short-term visa-free travel for eligible Israeli citizens and nationals to the United States. This follows an earlier decision, taken on September 26, 2023, to admit Israel’s into the U.S. Visa Waiver Program.
To use the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, eligible Israeli citizens and nationals can start applying through the CBP’s Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta.
To be eligible for ESTA, Israeli citizens and nationals must have a biometrically enabled passport. Israelis who possess non-biometric passports, temporary passport, or emergency travel documents, or only have a passport from a non-Visa Waiver Program designated country, are not eligible for ESTA.
ESTA applications may take up to 72 hours for processing and are available in English only at this time. However, US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has committed to make ESTA applications available in other languages no later than November 1, 2023.
CBP uses the information provided in the application to vet travelers before granting authorization to travel to the United States. This includes checking if the applicant is suspected or known violator of the law or a threat to national security.
ESTA allows Israeli citizens and nationals to travel to the US only for an intended period of 90 days or less for tourism or business. Individuals who use ESTA but have an intended stay more than 90 days may be determined to be inadmissible to the United States and refused entry. Individuals who overstay past the 90 days without being granted an extension can be removed from the US and will not be eligible for ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program.
When traveling on ESTA under the Visa Waiver Program, an individual is not eligible to change or extend status while in the US. In such cases a B1/B2 visa is more appropriate.
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