Designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program

by | Oct 18, 2023 | Firm News, Immigration Explained

On September 27, 2023, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with Secretary of State, announced the designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). By November 30, 2023, the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be updated to allow citizens and nationals of Israel to apply to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without first obtaining a U.S. visa. Following updates in Israel’s travel policies, all U.S. citizens may request entry to Israel for up to 90 days for business, tourism, or transit without obtaining a visa. 

Alejandro N. Mayorkas, Secretary of Homeland Security, said, “The designation of Israel into the Visa Waiver Program is an important recognition of our shared security interests and the close cooperation between our two countries.” Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said, “Israel’s entry into the Visa Waiver Program represents a critical step forward in our strategic partnership with Israel that will further strengthen long-standing people-to-people engagement, economic cooperation, and security coordination between our two countries […] This important achievement will enhance freedom of movement for U.S. citizens, including those living in the Palestinian Territories or traveling to and from them.” 

The DHS’s announcement also discloses that in advance of this designation, Israel made updates to its “entry policies to meet the VWP requirement to extend reciprocal privileges to all U.S. citizens without regard to national origin, religion, and ethnicity. DHS monitored Israel’s implementation of these requirements and engaged with Palestinian-Americans both living in the West Bank and living in the United States, who now have the ability to enter Israel visa free, and fly in and out of Ben Gurion airport, reducing barriers to travel for these Americans.” 

Under the VWP, on November 30, 2023, citizens and nationals of Israel will be able to apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through the ESTA. These authorizations are generally valid for two years. Israeli citizens with valid B-1/B-2 visas may continue to use them for business and tourist travel to the United States. ESTA applications may be found at or download the “ESTA Mobile” app through iOS App Store or the Google Play store. 

Israel is the 41st member of the Visa Waiver Program.