New Entry Requirements to the USA
The Government of the United States of America has announced new and more detailed immigration and entry procedures for all travellers who are not citizens of the USA or Canada. These new procedures apply to all flights departing for the USA on and after 12 January 2009.
Why is this Important?
The new procedures are legal requirements of the Government of the USA, and Virgin Australia is required by law to enforce the new procedures. This means that if you do not obtain approval to enter the USA at least 72 hours before your flight, using the new procedures described below, Virgin Australia is required by US law to refuse to carry you on your flight.
If You are a Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident of the USA or Canada
Your entry procedures have not changed.
If You are a Citizen of Any Other Country
Your visa and entry procedures have changed. In summary, there will be two mechanisms by which you can obtain approval to enter the USA:
- If you are eligible, you can apply for and obtain approval under the Visa Waiver Program; or
- Otherwise, if you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you must apply for and obtain a visa as per the usual USA visa process.
If you do not obtain approval to travel by one of the above mechanisms, you will not be able to board your flight to the USA.
Visa Waiver Program has Changed – You Must Now Pre-register
The Visa Waiver Program is available to citizens of a number of countries, including those who hold Australian and New Zealand passports. Please refer to the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) Fact Sheet about the program (PDF, 147k) which includes details of those who may apply.
If you wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program, you must “pre-register” your intention to enter the USA at least 72 hours prior to your scheduled departure.
To apply for approval under the Visa Waiver Program visit the Department of Homeland Security site. The application incurs a USD$14 fee and takes approximately 10 minutes to complete. It is valid for two years for holders of a valid passport.
If you are not eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, you should contact your nearest United States consulate to arrange for a visa. Your travel agent may be able to assist you.
You Must Also Update Your Details for Each Visit You Make to the USA
Once you have received a travel authorisation under the Visa Waiver Program, you must update your travel plans on line for subsequent visits to the USA, quoting their travel authorisation number.
It is Your Responsibility to Obtain Approval to Enter the USA
The above USA entry requirements are not requirements of Virgin Australia. They are requirements of the US Government and unfortunately, if you do not obtain the requisite travel visa or pre-approval under the Visa Waiver Program in advance, our check-in staff will not be able to resolve the problem on the day - and Virgin Australia will not be liable for any costs or cancellation penalties or inconvenience that you experience as a result of your denied boarding.
If You Have Any Other Questions
Use this Fact Sheet about the program (PDF, 147k) or visit the US Government’s Customs and Border Protection website.