The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), created in 1986, permits citizens of 38 countries to travel to the U.S. for stays of up to 90 days without a visa, provided certain requirements are met. In return, those 38 countries allow U.S. citizens to travel to their countries for a similar length of time without obtaining a visa.
The citizens of the following countries are eligible for the VWP:
In a recent post, we explained how you may qualify for the VWP under the new program rules if you are a citizen of eligible VWP countries.
Extension of Status after Entering on the VWP
Unlike individuals who enter the U.S. on regular visas, you are not allowed to extend your stay beyond 90 days. The only exception to this may arise during extreme circumstances, such as a health emergency, in which case the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may grant you an extension of up to 30 days at their discretion.
Change of Status after Entering on the VWP
Similarly, unlike individuals who enter the U.S. on regular visas, you are not allowed to change your status to another category. Instead, you must depart the U.S. to apply for an immigrant or nonimmigrant visa and then reenter under that status.
Adjustment of Status (“Green Card”) after Entering on the VWP
You are not eligible to apply for adjustment of status, or a “green card,” unless:
- You are applying through a U.S. citizen immediate relative*; and
- You have not received a deportation order, are not under investigation or been arrested or convicted of certain “egregious public safety” crimes, fraud, or national security issues.
*Immediate relatives are: spouses of citizens, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older.
Keep in mind that if your application for adjustment of status or a green card is denied, you generally do not have a right to appeal that denial due to your entry under the VWP. It is therefore prudent to consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to applying for any immigration benefits.
If you have any questions about your rights as a VWP entrant or filing for adjustment of status after entering on the VWP, please contact the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of Azita M. Mojarad, P.C.