Travelers coming to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program are reminded that they must hold an e-passport or be at risk of being turned away upon entry.

Key points:

  • The e-passport requirement took effect April 1 and applies to all individuals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program even if they already have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
  • Travelers who update their old passports to an e-passport must submit a new ESTA application.
  • Travelers who apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. consulate are not required to have an e-passport to travel to the U.S.

Background: An e-passport is a secure passport with an embedded chip and marked with the international e-passport symbol.

The Visa Waiver Program is currently available to nationals of 38 countries and allows eligible nationals to apply for an ESTA instead of a visa for U.S. visits of up to 90 days. The e-passport requirement is one of several recent restrictions to the program.

BAL Analysis: Travelers accustomed to entering the U.S. with an ESTA should check their passports and ESTA status to make sure they meet the e-passport requirement and, if they have upgraded to an e-passport, that they have also applied for a new ESTA.

This alert has been provided by the BAL U.S. Practice group. For additional information, please contact

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