What is the difference between ESTA application and VISA?
The ESTA approval is not a Visa. In cases when the US visa is required, an ESTA does not comply with legal or legislative requirements.
If the traveller has a valid U.S. Visa, he/she may enter the United States with this Visa purpose and an additional ESTA approval is not required.
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation, which is a completely different type of travel authorisation than Visa or any of its forms.
This means that you have to define your travel plans before traveling to the USA and submit an application for ESTA or for a Visa.
First of all, it is most important to know that only citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries can apply for an ESTA and travel to the USA Visa-free. If you are not sure about what the Visa Waiver Program is and what countries are included in the program, please read more about the VWP to find out.
If you are not a citizen of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries, you cannot apply for an ESTA, which means you will have to apply for an appropriate type of Visa.
However, if you are a citizen of one of the VWP countries, you shall apply for an ESTA when traveling to America.
You should keep in mind that even if you are eligible for an ESTA, there are still some regulations in place for you to travel to the USA Visa-free. These are the regulations set in place by the VWP.
In order to enjoy traveling to the USA with an ESTA, your stay-time in the country shall not exceed 90 days. Also, the goal of your visit to the US shall be for travel, transit or doing business. What is more, you have to travel to the USA by air or sea!
From the moment of your ESTA being approved, it will be valid for two years or until the moment of your passport expiration if it comes first.
Within these two years you can visit the USA for any number of times. However, each visit shall not exceed 90 days.
What is more, if the U.S. border control suspects that you are using your ESTA for any other reason that travel, transit or doing business, you might not be granted entry in the USA.
Which means that even a valid ESTA is not always a guarantee for entry into the United States!