After years of waiting, Poland has officially been designated as a member of the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, which allows Polish citizens and nationals to travel to the U.S. for business or tourism for stays of up to 90 days, without a visa.
The primary goal of the program is to encourage travel while increasing security. Poland’s inclusion will make it the 39th member of the program when it officially launches on Monday, Nov. 11, joining other member nations including France, Germany, Australia, Sweden, and Japan.
“The inclusion of Poland into the Visa Waiver Program 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,” said Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan. “We look forward to continuing to work with the Polish government as we deepen our security cooperation as well as make travel easier for our citizens.”
Under the Visa Waiver Program, citizens and nationals of Poland will be able to apply online for authorization to travel to the U.S. through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). These authorizations are valid for two years.
Travelers with B1/B2 visas should continue to use their visa for travel to the U.S. While the Department of Homeland Security will begin accepting applications on Nov. 11, it reminds first-time ESTA applicants that it may take up to 72 hours for processing.
"It is cause for celebration in both the U.S. and Poland that the two countries have now formally partnered in the VWP, a program that is the gold standard for simultaneously boosting both U.S. security and the U.S. economy,” said U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Roger Dow.
"Whenever a country has entered the VWP, the U.S. has always seen a significant increase in visitation from that country — and keep in mind those travelers are then thoroughly vetted under the program's robust security protocols,” said Dow. “Poland's admission is projected to generate an additional $702 million in travel spending and 4,300 American jobs in the first three years.”