The standard passport validity requirement is six months higher than the scheduled departure date for the United States. However, the United States has signed agreements with a number of countries to waive this requirement.   In order to qualify for an exemption from the VWP visa requirement, a traveller applying to enter the United States must be a citizen of a country designated as a “program country” by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security in agreement with the Secretary of State. Permanent residents of a given country who are not citizens of a particular country are not entitled to visa exemption. The criteria for designation as a country in the program are defined in Section 217 (c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Title 8.C No. 1187).  The criteria emphasize passport security and a very low refusal rate for non-immigrants, which does not exceed 3% in accordance with Section 217 (c) (2) (A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and which consistently complies with U.S. immigration law. Australian and New Zealand citizens benefit from a more liberal visa policy, as both governments have signed bilateral visa agreements with individual Schengen countries. Australian nationals can spend up to 90 days in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, without referring to time spent in other Schengen countries.  New Zealand citizens in any Austria can have up to 90 days in Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland (as well as Hungary, when you visit it as a final Schengen destination), without reference to the time spent in other Schengen states Schengen visa policy applies to the whole region, bilateral visa-free agreements are concluded between certain third countries and the various EU Member States.
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