U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced the elimination of the paper arrival/departure form (Form I-94W) for authorized travelers from nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The Visa Waiver Program currently enables the nationals of 36 participating countries to travel to the United States for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa.
The move follows a successful seven-month pilot program conducted on Air New Zealand flights from Auckland to the Los Angeles International Airport. The of paper I-94W forms will be eliminated for travelers with an approved Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) arriving in the U.S. at all airports by the end of this summer.
"The Visa Waiver Program facilitates secure and hassle-free travel for citizens of participating countries—making international travel safer and easier," said Secretary Napolitano. "This step to eliminate the paper I-94W leverages the latest technology to further bolster security, increase convenience for visitors and better protect privacy."
The elimination of the paper I-94W form enables travelers to provide basic biographical, travel and eligibility information automatically through ESTA prior to departure for the U.S.— reducing redundancy and enhancing the security of sensitive personal information, as Customs and Border Protection (CBP stores and protects all VWP data electronically on secure servers.
CBP recommends that travelers submit ESTA applications as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, will be valid for two years or until the applicant’s passport expires. To date, CBP has received more than 19 million ESTA applications from citizens of VWP countries—applications that will now automatically cover I-94W submission.