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Visa Waiver Program – WB/WT Status


  • A nonimmigrant in WB status is a person who has entered the US temporarily for purposes related to business under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP.)
  • This status is appropriate for aliens coming to engage in commercial transactions such as participation in scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions or conferences, or to perform independent research.
  • Enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States for business (WB) or tourism (WT) for 90 days or less without obtaining a U.S. visa.

Participating Countries

Participating Countries
Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece the Netherlands United Kingdom**
**Refers only to British citizens who have the unrestricted right of permanent abode in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands, and the Isle of Man); it does not include British overseas citizens, British dependent territories, or citizens of British Commonwealth countries.

Immigration Requirements

WB Visitors may be admitted for a maximum of 90 days with no possibility to extend their stay or change status within the U.S.  If a longer stay is anticipated, please see the information page on B-1 status or call OIS for further information.

  • Passports:
  • All VWP entrants must comply with machine-readability and biometrics requirements.
  • If there are questions about whether a passport is machine readable, contact the passport issuing authority in your country of citizenship.
  • Requirements are subject to change based on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations.
  • ESTA verification system:
    • ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an electronic authorization system that must be completed at least 72 hours before travel as a WB/WT visitor to the U.S.
    • Visit the ESTA website for additional information and to complete an on-line application.
    • A response of “Travel Not Authorized” means that one cannot enter the U.S. under the VWP program. To enter as a visitor, he or she would then have to apply for a B-1 visa at a U.S. consulate.
    • ESTA authorization is valid for up to two years unless revoked, or if there is a change in the individuals’ name, gender, country of citizenship, or a new passport is issued.
    • ESTA authorization only confirms that one is eligible to apply for entry to the U.S. it is not a guarantee of admission, such decisions are made by USCBP at the Port of Entry.
  • Port-of-Entry Procedures: Beginning summer 2010, travelers in the ESTA system will no longer be issued a paper arrival/departure form (Form I-94W).  This new process will be phased-in at various airports during the summer of 2010.

For additional information about the VWP, please see the U.S. Department of State site and the USCIS site.

Payments and Limitations at UIC

  • WB Visitors may be reimbursed for expenses.  Payment may be for academic activities that last no longer than 9 days and provided that the visitor does not receive payments from more than 5 institutions within six months.  Please see the Office of Payroll Services for the “Tax Reporting and Withholding Checklist for Foreign National Reimbursements.”  Completion of this compliance statement will be necessary before Payroll will allow payment to the individual.
  • WB visitors can act as consultants for up to 9 days but cannot legally accept teaching or research positions or other employment for which they are paid by a U.S. institution.
  • Payroll sets the standard for reimbursements so please consult Payroll for information about limitations on reimbursement for airfare, insurance and per diem.

Procedure to invite a WB Visitor

Before inviting an international visitor, the department must verify that all requirements have been met for the WB visa category.  In order to facilitate this process, the department should: 1) review the WB Visa Checklist, which is available for download on the OIS website; and 2) consult with OIS to ensure all necessary documentation is collected and/or drafted.

Departmental Requirements:

  • The international visitor is limited to a temporary stay of 90 days or less without extension.
  • The purpose of the visit is solely for temporary commercial, business, or professional activities, such as attendance at conventions or conferences, or for professional consultation and observation of a specific and defined nature.  The purpose of the visit should be documented in a WB Invitation Letter (see WB Visa Checklist for a template).
  • The international visitor cannot be paid by the department or UIC, but may be reimbursed for nominal costs related to travel expenses and/or accommodations.  Honoraria payments may be considered if the visit to UIC is not longer than nine days, and the visitor has not accepted honoraria from more than five institutions or organizations within a six-month period.
  • The international visitor may not be given a formal academic appointment at UIC.
  • The international visitor may not have any direct or indirect patient contact, or interact with research subjects in any manner.
  • The international visitor may not attempt to obtain employment within the U.S., or attempt to change their status to J-1 or H-1B.
  • The international may not volunteer or take part in departmental operation decisions, or be given an appointment at UIC.
  • The international visitor may not conduct research using departmental equipment or resources unless there is direct supervision by the sponsor.
  • The international visitor may not displace U.S. workers in any way.

International Visitor Requirements:

  • The international visitor must have an institutional affiliation in his/her home country or country of permanent residence.
  • The international must have adequate finances and health insurance to support himself/herself for their duration of stay in the U.S.
  • The international visitor must abide by the intent of his/her visit throughout their stay in the U.S.

After arrival, and if the visit is for one week or more, please contact OIS to arrange a “virtual” or in-person check-in.  Please send an email to or call 996-3121.