As of my last knowledge update in September 2021, New Zealand citizens can enter the United States for short visits (tourism, business, or transit) under the U.S. Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This program allows New Zealand passport holders to travel to the U.S. for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa for tourism or certain business-related activities. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Eligibility for Visa Waiver Program (VWP): To be eligible for the VWP, you must meet specific requirements, including having a machine-readable e-passport (often indicated by a biometric symbol on the passport cover), obtaining an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before travel, and having a return or onward ticket.
- ESTA Application: Before traveling to the U.S., you must apply for an ESTA online. ESTA is an automated system that determines your eligibility to travel under the VWP. Visit the official ESTA website (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/) to apply and pay the required fee. It’s advisable to apply for ESTA well in advance of your travel plans.
- Check ESTA Status: After submitting your ESTA application, you will receive a response within minutes. It’s essential to check the status of your ESTA and ensure it’s approved before boarding your flight.
- Purpose of Travel: When traveling to the United States under the VWP, you must ensure that your activities are consistent with the allowed purposes, which primarily include tourism, business meetings, and short-term training or conferences.
- Length of Stay: Under the VWP, you can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days per visit. If you plan to stay longer or for a different purpose, you will need to apply for a visa.
- Entry and Exit Requirements: Be prepared to present your passport, ESTA approval, and return or onward ticket to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon arrival in the United States. Additionally, your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date from the United States.
- Compliance with U.S. Laws: While in the United States, it’s essential to comply with U.S. laws and regulations. Overstaying your allowed period or engaging in unauthorized employment can have serious consequences.
- Visa for Non-VWP Purposes: If you intend to visit the United States for purposes not covered by the VWP (e.g., work, study, or immigrate), you will need to apply for the appropriate U.S. visa.
Please note that visa requirements and regulations can change, so it’s crucial to verify the most up-to-date information on the official U.S. Department of State website or with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in New Zealand before making any travel plans to the United States.