During my two years in the Czech Republic, I’ve lost count of the
number of times I’ve been asked when Czechs will be able to travel to
the U.S. without a visa. Thanks to President Bush’s announcement ten
days ago, I now have a good answer. In less than a month, Czechs will
not need a visa for short tourism or business visits to the U.S.
This is the first expansion of the Visa Waiver Program, or VWP, since
the program is a significant accomplishment that recognizes the Czech
Republic’s increasing importance to the United States as a trade,
cultural and security partner. In addition, the Czech people made this
possible by abiding by the terms of their visas. There are many reasons
why expanding the VWP will help both of our countries. Eliminating
the requirement for a visa leads to more economic growth and
cooperation at a time when the global economy needs it the most. On top
of that, more travel between our countries helps us understand each
other’s cultures and get to know each other better. So I certainly hope
membership in the VWP means that even more Czechs will visit our
country than before. The
Association of Czech Travel Agents certainly thinks so: they expect the
number of Czechs traveling each year to the U.S. will increase by up to
Remember: only tourists and business visitors can travel without a
visa, for visits shorter than 90 days. Students, workers, exchange
program visitors, and all other nonimmigrant visa categories still
require visas. Equally important, if you already have a valid visa, you
can travel on that visa until it expires.
traveling without a visa also must have a biometric passport and an
Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, authorization. The ESTA application website is https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
information about traveling without a visa, please visit the embassy’s
website, prague.usembassy.gov, and the website of the Czech Ministry of
the Interior, http://www.mvcr.cz/zruseni-viz-do-usa.aspx. The
U.S. Department of Homeland Security also answers a number of questions
about ESTA at
I wish you safe and happy travels to the United States.