When do I need VISA?

There are several exceptions when ESTA approval is not applicable for arrival in the US:

  • If you intend to arrive at the U.S. aboard a Visa Waiver Program non-signatory air carrier;
  • If you intend to visit the U.S. for more than 90 days;
  • If you believe any grounds of inadmissibility of the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a) apply to you, you should apply for a non-immigrant visa;
  • If you are travelling to the United States. for a purpose other than short-term tourism or business.

It is most important to know that Visa is not the same as ESTA.

By far the most important regulation for ESTA is that only citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries can apply for and use ESTA as a form of travel authorisation. This means that if you are a citizen of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries and you are traveling to the USA under the regulations of VWP you do not need to obtain a Visa.

An appropriate type of Visa will therefore be needed in all cases when an ESTA cannot be used.

The regulations of VWP state that an ESTA can only be used by citizens of the VWP countries when:

  • Traveling to the USA for no longer than 90 days
  • Visiting for tourism, transits or doing business
  • Arriving by air or sea

For example, if you are a citizen of one of the Visa Waiver Program countries, but you plan on staying in America for a period longer than 90 days, you will have to obtain a Visa.

This means that even if you are eligible to travel to the United States with an ESTA, it cannot always be used because of the regulations of VWP.

If you are not sure about how your ESTA can be used and should a Visa be obtained in different situations, please contact our experts who will answer all questions regarding Visa-Free travel to the USA.

In some cases a Visa might be needed when for some reason your ESTA is not being approved. There can be many reasons for this, however it is worth noting that if your ESTA application has not been approved, you might also have problems with obtaining a Visa.

If you want to be sure that ESTA can be used for your next travel to the USA, please read more about Visa-free travel in our blog section or visit our frequently asked questions sections.