Poland has become the 39th market to be designated for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), effective Nov. 11, 2019.
Citizens and nationals of Poland are now eligible to visit the United States for tourism and business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa. Under the VWP, they can apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Authorizations are valid for multiple entries over a two-year period.
“The inclusion of Poland into the Visa Waiver Program,” said Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan in making the announcement, “is a testament to the special relationship that exists between our two countries, and the ongoing friendship and close cooperation on our joint security priorities.”
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) administers the VWP, in consultation with the State Department.
“The designation of Poland into the Visa Waiver Program reinforces our approach to marketing the USA throughout the whole of Europe,” said Christopher L. Thompson, Brand USA’s president and CEO. “To that end at Brand USA Travel Week, we recruited and hosted Polish buyers to meet with the outstanding group of U.S. suppliers who attended the inaugural event.”
At Travel Week, Brand USA invited the U.S. Commercial Service in Poland to help deliver the supplier briefing on emerging European markets. Brand USA also has engaged other promotional efforts in Poland, including supporting a U.S. Embassy-led USA pavilion at the World Travel Show in Warsaw each of the past two years.
Thompson also noted, “We are and will continue communicating this policy change to potential Polish travelers, as mandated by the Travel Promotion Act. And, we will continue to determine how best to take advantage of this exciting opportunity to grow international visitation from Poland to the United States.”
As a single entity, Europe is the third-largest source market for inbound travel to the United States and the top overseas market. In 2018, the United States welcomed 15.4 European travelers. Canada (21.5 million) and Mexico (18.5 million) continue to be the top-two international inbound travel markets.
Each participant in the Visa Waiver Program has a comprehensive security partnership with the United States, which addresses counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management. The program is designed to encourage travel, while increasing security.
Participants in the VWP also allow U.S. citizens and nationals to travel to their countries for pleasure or business, for up to 90 days, without a visa.
DHS notes that Polish travelers with existing B1/B2 visas should continue to use their visa for travel to the United States. While DHS will begin accepting applications on November 11th, the department reminds first-time ESTA applicants that it may take up to 72 hours for processing. ESTA applications may be found here.