ESTA Application for Citizens of Estonia: Apply for USA ESTA Online
Before we get into some specific frequently asked questions, lets understand what an ESTA is, what is it meant for, who can obtain it.
1. WHAT IS ESTA AND WHO CAN APPLY FOR IT?
ESTA is an online form that allows for citizens of Estonia to save time and energy on obtaining a Visa through a USA Embassy.
ESTA is available only to a specific number of countries, for now, the list consists of 39 member countries. Estonia is a part of these countries. They are included in a program called the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
The Visa Waiver Program was made by the U.S. government, therefore, they have all the say in who gets accepted in the list of VWP countries, who get unlisted and who has more rules to follow to apply for an ESTA. The countries involved in this program do not really have control over what regulations will be made and which ones their citizens will have to follow in order to travel to America.
That being said, ESTA is a more convenient travel authorization for people looking to visit the USA for a short while.
The criteria one has to meet in order to qualify for an ESTA, are:
Your time in the USA will not extend 90 days.
Your reason for travel is leisure, business or transit.
If you are wondering why you should also apply for an ESTA if you are only transiting USA (it is not your final destination), then note that America is serious in regards to its security and who gets to enter the USA territory. Due to these safety precautions, all passengers must either have a Visa or an ESTA (if a citizen of a VWP country).
Since Estonia is a VWP country, Estonians can easily obtain an ESTA for transit purposes. The only possibility to it not being approved is if the individual has problems with the background check that will be made (criminal records) or an invalid passport (it has to be an e-passport) or if they have dual citizenship, where one is Estonian but the other from Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
However, since you are only transiting, there should be no problems if you put “In Transit” under the “Address while in the USA” section.
2. CAN AN ESTONIAN STUDY IN THE USA WITH AN ESTA?
ESTA is a more convenient way of applying and traveling to the USA for specific countries of the Visa Waiver Program. The two criteria that need to be met when traveling with an ESTA under the VWP to the USA is:
- Your visit is 90 days or less;
- Reason for travel is short-term tourism, business or transit.
Since students usually travel to the USA to graduate from one of the higher-education institutions, or at least, gain a degree, then a student Visa would be more advised, rather than an ESTA.
Student Visas are F-1 and M-1.
The F-1 Visa can be used for going to universities or colleges, high schools, seminaries, private elementary schools, conservatories, language programs, as well as, other academic institutions. This visa is needed if your aim is to get a certificate or a degree.
The M-1 Visa can be used for when going to a vocational or other non-academic institution (except language programs).
You can use a non-immigrant (B) Visa if your aim is to enroll in recreational studies that do not last a long period of time and whose aim isn’t to get a certificate or degree.
However, there is some space for under the VWP for students to be able to study in the USA with an ESTA.
As long as you meet the following criteria, you may study with an ESTA:
- The period of your classes needs to be no finished in no longer than three months (90 days).
- Your classes cannot exceed 18 hours per week.
If you wish to enroll in non-permanent courses that will only last three months, where classes will take less than 18 hours per week, you may skip obtaining a Visa and use ESTA for this type of studying.
The biggest advantage of studying in the USA with an approved ESTA is that it is not mandatory to obtain medical insurance, whereas for student visas this point is mandatory in order to get a travel authorization.
As for schools to which you can apply with your ESTA, there is a specific selection of schools allowed under the Visa Waiver Program. Unless, prior to visiting you’ve made special arrangements with a college or university, you cannot study at such higher education institutions. You may enroll in language training courses accredited by the U.S. government.
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3. WHAT ARE THE REGULATIONS REGARDING SPECIFIC ILLNESSES AND MEDICATION?
With the Trump administration in office it is no surprise that travel and security regulations have become stricter. Most importantly, regarding health problems, medication, and medical devices.
Keeping the following in mind can save you unnecessary stress at the airport with TSA.
First things first, you will have to comply with the regulations of all these three organizations:
- TSA (Transportation security agency)
- FDA (Food and drug administration)
- Border Patrol and Customs.
Let’s start with medications.
To make your security check easier, you will have to prepare in advance.
Firstly, if you have specific medication that needs to be taken during your visit in the USA, you will have to get a doctor’s note or letter (in English) stating that, you, their patient, really need to take these prescribed pills or liquids. Make sure the doctor also provides their stamp to make it credible. Also, keep the medication in its official packaging.
If your country prints a label on the packaging of prescribed medication, then this will also help greatly as then the official at security can see that they are intended for you personally.
Secondly, put your medication in a separate zip-lock bag to have it go separately through x-ray, this will make the checking process quicker and easier with no misunderstandings. Do note that if the medication is not approved for use in the USA, the TSA official may discard of your medication. However, this is unlikely.
Important Note: As you are traveling to the USA with an ESTA, which permits travelers to stay in the USA for no longer than 90 days, then you may also pack the needed medication only for the period you are staying in the USA. If you are taking a pill a day and your visit is 40 days, then you cannot bring more than 40 pills with you into America.Keep in mind to not travel with huge amounts of medication with you (including regular painkillers like Ibuprofen), and you will be fine.
Now, let’s talk about medical devices.
Medical devices include oxygen tanks, a wheelchair, medication pumps, prosthesis, casts and other assistive devices.
If your medical device can be removed, you will be asked to do so, as the TSA will have to check it separately while you will be seated in a designated waiting area. The same will apply for oxygen tanks unless you will have a written letter from your doctor specifically stating that the oxygen machine CANNOT be removed from the patient.
As for portable oxygen tanks, make sure yours is approved for in-flight use.
To save time going through security, have a legitimate doctor’s letter in English by hand to show to the custom’s officials proving that the medical devices are indeed needed for health reasons (this includes needles, coolers and other supplies for insulin-dependent individuals).
As for special diseases, illnesses and medical conditions.
Please note that the customs agents are trained to observe and notice health issues that may be a threat to others.
Therefore, if you have or are traveling with someone who is blind or has a vision impairment, is deaf or hearing impaired or wearing a hearing aid, notify the TSA agents so special steps can be taken in order to check the individual properly. Same goes for mental illnesses, dementia and learning disabilities.
Keep in mind that there are also communicable diseases (AIDS, HIV, HEP C), with whom a person can be denied entrance in the USA.
Although it may seem like a hassle just to pass through U.S. security check, note that all airport security checks are done carefully to ensure the safety of that county’s citizens.
You will not be denied entering in the USA due to medication or medical devices. Simply make the process go smoothly by having a doctor’s note with you for all medications and/or medical devices, and you will be fine.
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As there is much more to know about traveling to the USA with an ESTA, we encourage you to read our detailed Frequently Asked Questions section to have a better understanding of this travel authorization called ESTA.
Read FAQs here.