What is an ESTA Application?

There are countries whose citizens can visit the US without the need for a visa. They can travel multiple times in a year for tourism or business activities. This is made possible with the travel authorization known as ESTA Visa.

An ESTA VISA Application

What is an ESTA Visa?

ESTA meaning (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a registration system that supposes travelers who partake in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to register before boarding the air or sea vessel with the United States as the destination.

The ESTA VISA is a system that assists to monitor the eligibility of visitors who journey to the United States under the VWP. Whether such a trip is against any law enforcement or security risk. It is to strengthen the security of the travel by obtaining an approved travel authorization before they travel into the United States.

Simply put, what the ESTA VISA application does is offer to gather biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. These applications may be submitted at any time before travel, though the best recommendation is for travelers to apply in preparation to travel or before purchasing airplane tickets.

How is an ESTA different from a VISA?

Is an ESTA a visa?

The ESTA Authorization does not guarantee that a traveler is admissible to the United States. That is a process that is taken care of by the US Customs and Border Protection. The officers determine admissibility upon a travelers’ arrival.

The ESTA being an approved travel authorization is not a visa. It does not pass the legal or regulatory requirements to serve as a substitute for a United States visa in the case that a visa is required under United States law.

Willing applicants ask very often, “Do I need an ESTA if I have a visa?” Visitors with a valid US visa will still be able to travel to the US on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. In this case, the application for a travel authorization (ESTA) will not be necessary.

Similar to how a valid US visa gives no form of assurance of admittance into the country, an approved ESTA also does not guarantee admission.

The ESTA VISA Application

Implementation of the ESTA became compulsory on the 12th of January, 2009. This system replaced the green I-94W form that travelers, while on the plane, to provide personal and trip information.

Application for the ESTA Visa may not necessarily be completed by self. It can be done by third parties (family, friends, travel agencies) and should have been triggered and closed 72 hours before the day of departure. The ESTA Visa is only valid for two years, but it can be used for unlimited entries.

The application is taken with an online form. The ESTA information required to start and complete the application form:

  • Passport and Contact information (home address, telephone number, and basic information)
  • Travel information - the US point of contact or resident, etc
  • Employment information (if employed)
  • Payment card information.

September 8, 2010, marked the end of free ESTA applications. Payments when applying for or renewing an ESTA application must be made online by valid payment cards or debit cards.

usaestaonline system accepts these payment credit/debit cards:

  • MasterCard
  • VISA card

Your application is incomplete and will not be approved or submitted for processing until all payment information is completed. You can always check your ESTA status whether you have submitted an ESTA application previously or not.

On submission of the completed form, the traveler needs to declare that they agree with several conditions which are referred to as the ESTA statement.

ESTA statement

The statement which an applicant engages in can be split into two categories.

Where the applicants agree that they conform to all of the requirements set to qualify for an ESTA:

This covers agreements to certain conditions such as applicant not releasing false information, not being investigated by the police, not addicted to narcotics, and more safety questions.

Where the applicants are expected to forgo their right to contest the final say of the US Customs and Border Protection agency as per the ESTA application:

This needs to be agreed upon for a valid travel authorization to be granted. It is to strip the right to review any decisions made by U.S. Customs and Border Protection who have a final judgment about whether or not to allow the traveler after arriving in the US.

Summary

Traveling to the US has become easier, quicker, and cheaper without the need for a visa. The ESTA, not only serves the purpose of reducing wait times and lengthy procedures, at the same time it addresses major security concerns.