On November 11, 2019, Poland officially joined the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Polish passport holders can now apply for ESTA and visit the United States for up to 90 days for tourism, business, medical purposes, or short-term study programs (non-credit).
By adding Poland to the list of countries, the VWP country list now consists of 39 countries. The last addition to the program was Chile back in 2014. Overall, adding Poland to the VWP is beneficial for both Poland and the United States. It makes it easier for Polish citizens to visit the United States, and it gives a boost to the tourism industry in the U.S.
The Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan said in a statement that “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.“
Since 1996, the number of visitors to the United States arriving through the VWP has grown tremendously. In two decades the visitor number has increased from 12.4 million in Fiscal Year 1996 to 21.2 million in Fiscal Year 2015. Adding Poland to the program will only further the increase of visitors over the next few years and decades.
Poland's addition to the program could generate an estimated $702 million in travel spending and over 4,000 American jobs within the first three years, estimated by the U.S. Travel Association.
Here is a list of what Polish passport holders need to consider when submitting their ESTA application.
Travellers from Poland are advised to apply for their ESTA at least 72 hours before departure to the United States.
You can read more about ESTA requirements here.
If a traveller is denied an ESTA, the traveller can still apply for a U.S. visitor visa. Applicants for U.S visas will need to file a more comprehensive application form, called the DS-160. Furthermore, applicants of such visas will have to attend an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate. They may have to prepare additional documents to prove their purposes for entering the country. Also, Polish citizens that wish to work or study in the U.S. will have to apply for the appropriate visa.
You can read more about the difference between ESTA and B1/B2 visa in our guide here.
Benefits of ESTA: