The Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State, designated Israel into the Visa Waiver Program on September 27, 2023, after determining it met all program requirements. Starting October 19, 2023, eligible Israeli citizens may apply online for authorization to travel to the United States through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). These authorizations allow successful applicants to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a U.S. visa.
Eligible Israeli citizens and nationals must have a full-validity, biometrically enabled passport book. Travelers who possess non-biometric, temporary, or emergency travel documents, or travel documents from a non-Visa Waiver Program designated country, are not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and may instead apply for a U.S. visa. ESTA applications may take up to 72 hours for processing. The ESTA application will be available in English only at this time and will be available in other languages no later than November 1, 2023.
Obtaining a U.S. visa may still be the best option for some travelers, such as those who would like to stay in the United States longer than 90 days or those who think they may wish to extend their stay or change their status once in the United States.
An ESTA is generally valid for two years. Israeli citizens with valid B-1/B-2 visas may continue to use them for business and tourist travel to the United States. If an application for an ESTA is denied, the applicant must apply for a visa in order to travel to the United States.
ESTA applications may be found at esta.cbp.dhs.gov or download the “ESTA Mobile” app through the iOS App Store or Google Play store. For further questions about ESTA, please visit Official ESTA Application Website, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (dhs.gov).
To read the DHS announcement, go to DHS Announces Start of Applications for Visa-Free Travel to U.S. for Eligible Israeli Citizens and Nationals | Homeland Security.