What is ESTA and who is eligible?
The United States has different categories of visas for people from different countries that they plan to travel to. Certain nationalities are eligible for a visa waiver under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). At the same time, some need to attend an interview for their US visa process in person, while some are eligible to process their visa application online.
Candidates eligible for VWP must apply for ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). Continue reading to know more about ESTA rules and its process.
What are eligible countries?
Citizens of the following 40 countries are eligible for the visa waiver program and do not need to fill out a US visa application. – Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Finland, Germany, Greece, Brunei, Croatia, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Malta, Norway, Netherlands, South Korea, Slovakia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovenia, Taiwan, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Spain, and United Kingdom.
ESTA-eligible travelers entering the United States must have an e-passport if their passport was issued after October 26, 2006. The e-passport contains an electronic chip that carries all the information of the passenger’s passport’s biodata page and a digital photograph.
Due to some changes in US visa policy, citizens of the countries mentioned above must obtain their ESTA approval. Standard processing time is 72 hours, so applicants should apply at least three days before travel. It is recommended that they do it early and start their travel preparations only after getting the approval. Travelers can apply for ESTA online or through an authorized agent.
Many times, travelers forget to apply for ESTA and do it on the day of their travel. While things usually go smoothly if everything else is in order with the traveler, sometimes screening can take longer and applicants have to postpone their travel.
What is the difference between ESTA and Visa?
ESTA is an authorized travel authorization but is not considered a visa. ESTA does not meet the statutory or regulatory requirements to serve in place of a US visa. ESTA holders can only use the permit for tourism, business or transit, but if they intend to stay, study or work for more than 90 days, they must acquire that visa category. The process is similar to other individuals where the candidate must complete the US visa application form, pay the application fee and submit additional documents.
Persons with a valid visa may travel to the United States on the visa for which it was issued. Persons traveling on a valid visa do not need to apply for an ESTA. Applicants must apply for a visa if they are traveling by private aircraft or any non-VWP-approved sea or air carrier.
US Visa Online is now available to be obtained via mobile phone or tablet or PC via email, without the need for a local visit to the US Embassy. Also, the US visa application form is made easy to complete online in 3 minutes on this website.
Why is ESTA required?
Since January 2009, the US has made it mandatory for VWP-eligible travelers coming to the country for a short stay to apply for an ESTA. The main reason is security and prevention of terrorism in the country or elsewhere in the world. It enables the government to manage and register information on travelers coming to the United States for a short stay. These factors allow them to review in advance whether the applicant has status to travel to the United States without a visa or whether the person may pose a threat to the United States if granted permission.
People should be aware that approval through ESTA does not guarantee entry into the country. U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials are the final authority on a traveler’s eligibility for entry into the country. A person is likely to be refused admission and deported to their country.
Documents required for ESTA travel authorization application
Eligible applicants for the ESTA Visa Waiver Program should be prepared with the necessary documents and information that may be asked during the application process. This includes
- 1. Valid Passport: The passport must be valid for more than six months from the date of the traveler’s arrival in the United States. If it is invalid, renew it before applying for ESTA. Travelers must fill out passport information on the ESTA application to complete their US visa process.
- 2. Other Information: Sometimes, authorities may ask for address, telephone number and other contact details in the United States where the applicant will be staying. answer it correctly & truthfully.
- 3. E-mail address: Applicants must provide a valid e-mail address for the authority to communicate about their application. ESTA approval for USA trip will arrive by e-mail within 72 hours. It is advisable to print a copy of the document while travelling.
- 4. Visa Payment: Along with online visa application, candidates have to submit the visa application fee through a valid debit or credit card.
Candidates ESTA application is rejected
Applicants whose ESTA US visa application is rejected online can still apply by completing a new US visa application form and paying a non-refundable visa processing fee. But they may not be eligible to process the visa application online.
However, when candidates reapply for the visa, they must carry several documents to confirm the reason for their visit. Although they can reapply after three working days, it is unlikely that their circumstances will change on such short notice. US visa application may be rejected again.
So, they have to wait for some time, improve their status and reapply with a new US visa application form and strong reasons to prove why they need to go to the country.
Similarly, some people rejected for a visa under Section 214B try to apply for an ESTA, but are likely to be refused permission. In most cases the situation they will be rejected the application. It is recommended that they wait and improve their condition.
The ESTA travel document is valid for two years from the date of issue and allows applicants to enter the country multiple times. They can stay a maximum of 90 days on each visit. If they plan a more extended trip, they must leave the country and re-enter.
However, it is also essential that the passport must be valid for more than two years, or the ESTA will expire on the day the passport expires. Applicants must reapply for a new ESTA after receiving a new passport
Do travelers traveling to the US need an ESTA approval?
Yes, all passengers making any type of stopover in the US, including transit passengers, must hold a valid visa or ESTA. A valid ESTA document will enable passengers to change flights/airports while traveling to other destinations. Those not eligible for the VWP must submit a US visa application for a transit visa to change planes at an airport, even if they do not intend to stay in the country.
Do minors and children need ESTA?
Yes, minors and children, regardless of their age, must have separate passports and ESTAs as well. It is the responsibility of their parent/guardian to apply before they plan their trip.
How to apply for ESTA online?
ESTA application processing is not a long process and the simple, different US visa application system is fast and takes no more than 20 minutes to complete. Applicants must follow the following instructions:
First: Applicants can visit the ESTA website and fill out the electronic form with general information about their travel. If applicants want their ESTA urgently, they must select the “urgent delivery” option.
Second: Then, make the payment online. Make sure all information entered is correct before making payment. No additional fees are charged if ESTA is approved. Once the process is complete, you will receive a confirmation e-mail.
Checkout this article: US VISA Application 2023!
Joseph is the intrepid author behind flyingpvt.com, a beloved travel blog that transports readers to far-flung destinations around the world. With a passion for exploration and storytelling, Joseph’s captivating narratives and practical travel insights have made him a trusted source of inspiration for both seasoned adventurers and novices alike.
From the bustling streets of Melbourne to the serene beaches of Bali, Joseph’s wanderlust knows no bounds. He blends his insatiable curiosity with a commitment to responsible travel, advocating for the preservation of natural beauty and cultural heritage.