Poland Joins the US Visa Waiver Program

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Poland has become the newest member of the US Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It is the first country to be accepted into the program for 5 years and the change means Polish citizens will no longer need to go through the laborious and costly process of getting a visa to visit the USA.

Instead, Polish citizens can apply for a 3 year long multiple entry ESTA in order to travel to the United States. This is a major development for what was one of the last EU countries to require a full US visa.

The Poland ESTA for the USA permits Polish citizens to travel to the US for up to 90 days for tourism or business via a simple online application. This is a much faster and cheaper process than the previous requirements and is likely to open up many opportunities for tourism on both sides of the Atlantic.

The move to add Poland to the VWP announced by President Trump a month previously came into full effect on the 11th of November 2019. The news was announced to coincide with Poland’s Independence Day and was lauded by the country’s President Andrzej Duda who noted that the new rules were “important, and good news” for the country’s 37 million inhabitants.

Streamlined Entry into the USA With a Poland ESTA

As of now, the process of organizing a trip to the US for tourism, visiting family and business trips is much simpler for Polish travelers. An ESTA for the USA from Poland can be obtained and received fully online prior to departure meaning the long queues on arrival and slow visa processing times will be a thing of the past.

The ESTA system can process and approve applications in under 48 hours. It is also substantially cheaper than the previous system in place. The change is likely to open all sorts of possibilities for tourists from Poland.

However, despite the new system coming into effect the US Department of Homeland Security has advised that Polish tourists with pre-existing B1/B2 visas should still continue to travel with their current authorization until the expiry of the document. Then, instead of obtaining another visa they can obtain an ESTA for Poland as normal.

Greater Travel Opportunities for Polish Tourists

Poland becomes the first country to gain entry into the Visa Waiver Program since Chile was granted permission to join in 2014. It is now the 39th nation to be a part of the official program allowing visa free entry into the USA.

The country had been seeking membership of the VWP ever since the fall of communism in the 1990s but until now had not been successful. Prior to the introduction of Poland into the VWP, citizens from the European state were one of the few EU countries that were still required to hold a pre-approved visa before traveling to the US.

Obtaining a US visa for Polish citizens was a lengthy and expensive process, with applicants needing to pay a visa admin fee of over $100. Additionally, Polish arrivals in the US had to queue to see a consul on arrival. As many as 10% of applicants from Poland were also rejected for visas according to official national statistics.

The introduction of the ESTA for Poland is a major step forward in US and Polish international relations. The entry of the country into the Visa Waiver Program is likely to offer tourists from Poland many more travel opportunities as well as offer a major boost to US businesses catering to the tourism market.

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