The travel designation was announced by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro N. Mayorkas, in consultation with Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will be updated by November 30, 2023, and will 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 US visa. This is a step which further strengthens the security, economic, and people-to-people ties between the US and Israel. Conversely, once Israel’s travel policies have been updated, all US citizens may request entry to Israel for up to 90 days for business, tourism, or transit without obtaining a visa.
The VWP meets strict requirements related to counterterrorism, law enforcement, immigration enforcement, document security, and border management. These requirements include confirmation that a country issues secure travel documents, extends visa-free privileges to all US citizens without regard to national origin, religion, or ethnicity; works closely with US law enforcement and counterterrorism authorities; and for initial designation, has a rate of nonimmigrant visitor visa refusals below 3% during the previous full fiscal year.
Israel has put forth a tremendous effort to meet all program requirements.
These incllude passing multiple new laws, establishing information sharing systems, and implementing new entry procedures for all US citizens. In advance of this VWP designation, Israel also made updates to its entry policies to meet program requirement to extend reciprocal privileges to all US citizens.
The US Department of Homeland Security monitored Israel’s compliance with 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.
The US Government will continue to engage with the Government of Israel while monitoring its continued implementation of all program requirements, including the reciprocity commitments it made to the United States on July 19, 2023.
These visa authorizations are generally valid for 2 two years. Israeli citizens who currently hold 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 esta.cbp.dhs.gov or may be downloaded at the “ESTA Mobile” app through the iOS App Store or Google Play store.