Visa Waiver Program pilot coming to LAX

Some travelers arriving to Los Angeles International Airport from New Zealand can use automated entry technology under a small-scale project.

Customs and Border Protection officials are beginning a month-long project to test the idea of doing away with the paper forms used as part of the Visa Waiver Program.

As part of the month-long pilot project, which begins Nov. 12, travelers on Air New Zealand Flight 6 to Los Angeles International Airport can pass up the standard I-94W form and instead use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization.

If all goes well early on, CBP might expand the pilot to additional Air New Zealand flights to Los Angeles during the testing period, agency officials said.

The Visa Waiver Program currently enables the nationals of 35 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays up to 90 days without obtaining a visa, according to CBP.

Under current regulations, residents of countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program can travel to the United States without a Visa as long as the fill out the I-94W form, providing basic biographical, travel, and eligibility information.

However, since January 2009, travelers also are required to submit an application through ESTA. The current project is testing the idea of a fully electronic application process.

“CBP has received more than 13 million ESTA applications from nationals of VWP countries and compliance continues to grow daily,” said Jayson Ahern, CBP’s acting commissioner.

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