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It's Tricky for an ESTA National to Request a U.S. Tourist Visa

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

Many people don't need a visa to visit USA. If you know the meaning of "ESTA", you likely hold a passport from one of the 40 countries enrolled in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"). (Canadians don't need U.S. visas, but aren't technically in the VWP). Sometimes though, VWP nationals either cannot or may not want to visit the U.S. using ESTA. While they can simply apply for a B-2 Tourist visa, that is by no means an "easy road to hoe". In fact, it may be more difficult for a Spaniard to apply for a B-2 Tourist visa at the U.S. Embassy in Madrid, Spain, (a developed nation) than for a Moroccan to apply for the same visa at the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca, Morocco (in contrast, a developing nation). Why is that? Well, U.S. consular officers don't need to adjudicate many B-2 Tourist visa applications in VWP nations like Spain, which means that the application will immediately raise suspicions upon being reviewed. Meanwhile, in developing nations like Morocco, everyone who wants to visit the U.S. has no choice but to apply for a U.S. B-2 Tourist visa. U.S. immigration attorneys regularly face conundrums like this and attempt to counsel applicants so that they convincingly demonstrate that they are indeed deserving of the requested visas and are approved on their first attempts to obtain them.


There are currently 40 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program: Andorra (1991)

Australia (1996)

Austria (1991)

Belgium (1991)

Brunei (1993)

Chile (2014)

Croatia (2021)

Czech Republic (2008)

Denmark (1991)

Estonia (2008)

Finland (1991)

France (1989)

Germany (1989)

Greece (2010)

Hungary (2008)

Iceland (1991)

Ireland (1995)

Italy (1989)

Japan (1988)

Korea, Republic of (2008)

Latvia (2008)

Liechtenstein (1991)

Lithuania (2008)

Luxembourg (1991)

Malta (2008)

Monaco (1991)

Netherlands (1989)

New Zealand (1991)

Norway (1991)

Poland (2019)

Portugal (1999)

San Marino (1991)

Singapore (1999)

Slovakia (2008)

Slovenia (1997)

Spain (1991)

Sweden (1989)

Switzerland (1989)

Taiwan (2012)

United Kingdom (1988)

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