On October 19, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Israeli citizens and nationals are now eligible to travel to the U.S. as part of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals may apply for authorization to travel to the United States through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) (https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta). These authorizations allow successful applicants to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without first obtaining a U.S. visa. Israeli citizens and nationals with valid B-1/B-2 visas may continue to use them for business and tourist travel to the United States. Traveling on a visa may still be the best option for some travelers such as those who would like to stay in the United States longer than 90 days or those who think they may wish to extend their stay or change their status once in the United States.
Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals must have a biometrically enabled passport book. Travelers who possess non-biometric, temporary, or emergency travel documents, or travel documents from a non-Visa Waiver Program designated country, are not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and may instead apply for a U.S. visa. ESTA applications may take up to 72 hours for processing.
ESTA is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, travelers are notified of their eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. DHS uses the application data to vet travelers before granting authorization to travel to the United States. As part of this vetting process, information that identifies suspected or known violators of the law and other persons of concern will be provided to the appropriate law enforcement, national security, and/or counterterrorism agency.
Individuals traveling under the Visa Waiver Program for an intended stay beyond 90 days may be determined to be inadmissible to the United States. Individuals determined to be inadmissible will be refused admission to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. In addition, individuals admitted under the Visa Waiver Program who overstay their authorized period of stay will be removable under the Visa Waiver Program and ineligible for future Visa Waiver Program travel.