What is ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization which is an application that replace Visa for citizens of VWP countries who are traveling to the USA. When an ESTA is approved it is valid for travel for two years or until the expiration of the passport validity period.
The application allows citizens of VWP countries to travel to the USA for a period of 90 days without having to obtain a Visa.
You can read more about ESTA here.
What is Visa Waiver Program?
Visa Waiver program allows for citizens of certain countries to travel to the USA or use it for transit without having to obtain a Visa. However, if you are a citizen of one of the VWP countries and traveling to the USA by air or sea, you have to obtain an ESTA.
Under the program citizens of VWP countries are allowed to travel to the USA or use it for transit for a period of 90 days.
You can read more about VWP here.
Who needs ESTA?
ESTA only applies for citizens of countries included in the VWP and only when traveling to the USA by sea or air. ESTA allows citizens of the VWP countries to visit the USA for business, travel or transit for a period of 90 days and replaces the need to obtain a VISA.
What is a VWP country?
VWP stands for Visa Waiver Program under which citizens of a number of specific countries are allowed to travel to the USA while in transit, for tourism or business for up to 90 days without the need to obtain a Visa.
Currently, the VWP countries are:
Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Republic of Korea; Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; United Kingdom; Poland
For how long is an ESTA valid?
An ESTA approval is valid until the expiration of the passport validity period of the ESTA holder or for two years in since the approval of ESTA if the passport expires in more than two years from the moment your ESTA has been approved.
In one visit you are allowed to say in the USA for up to 90 days with a valid ESTA.
This means that within the period of holding an approved ESTA, in most cases, you can travel to the USA multiple times for periods of up to 90 days.
How can I check if my ESTA is valid?
To check your ESTA status fill out the form and you will receive detail information on your ESTA.
If your ESTA is expired you will have to apply for a new ESTA to travel to the USA.
Do I need an ESTA if I have a VISA?
If you are a citizen of one of the VWP countries and traveling to the USA by land, you do not need to apply for an ESTA. However, if you are traveling by sea or air, you have to apply for an ESTA.
If you have a Visa, which means you are not a citizen of a VWP country, you do not need an ESTA.
What is ESTA group application?
ESTA group application allows for a single person to apply for ESTA for up to 50 people with a single ESTA payment.
The persons included in the group do not have to travel together but a unique ID number is used to identify all group applicants.
When to apply for ESTA?
An ESTA application can be submitted at any time prior to traveling to the USA, but it is advised to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding to travel to the USA.
It usually takes minutes to get an answer to your application with it being accepted or declined. However, applying at least 72 hours before the travel is advised to avoid any problems with the documentation being accepted on time.
What is the difference between ESTA application and Visa?
Visa and ESTA are not the same for traveling to the USA!
ESTA only applies for USA visitors who are citizens of one of the VWP countries and who are therefore not required to obtain a Visa to travel to the USA for a period of up to 90 days.
If you are not a citizen of one of the VWP countries, ESTA does not apply to you and you are required to obtain a USA Visa.
How much time is required for filling an ESTA application?
If you have all of the required information to fill an ESTA application, the process should not take longer than 10 to 20 minutes. The ESTA is usually approved in a matter of minutes, but it is strongly suggested that you apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before traveling to the USA.
When do I need VISA?
ESTA does not apply to you and you need a Visa if you are not a citizen of one of the VWP countries.
In some cases, even if you are a citizen of one of the VWP countries you still need to acquire a Visa which are:
- If you are traveling to the USA for a reason any other than tourists, business or transit;
- You should apply for a non-immigrant visa if you believe that any of the rules of Immigration and Nationality Act applies to you;
- If you are planning on staying in the USA for a period that exceeds 90 days.;
- If you are arriving in the USA abroad a Visa Waiver Program non-signatory air carrier.
When do I need tourism/business visa for traveling to the U.S.
Travellers who want to enter the United States of America need to receive a non-immigrant visa for a definite period of stay. Citizens of the Visa Waiver Program countries may have permission to travel to the United States of America using visa free program. If you plan to use the visa free program, you have to receive the approval of Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before entering the United States of America.
If you cannot qualify for the visa free program, you can apply for non-immigrant guest visa B1/B2 if:
- The purpose of the trip is business (B1)
- The purpose of the trip is leisure, medical treatment (B2)
B-1 Visa is usually issued if the purpose of the visit to the U.S. is visiting of seminars and conferences, meetings with business partners, conclusion of different agreements and deals.
B-2 Visa is usually issued if the purpose of the visit to the U.S. is leisure, travelling, medical care, treatment, visiting of friends and relatives, participation in social measures.
If you need to apply for (B1/B2) visa, please, contact the nearest U.S. embassy.
What countries are included in the Visa Waiver Program?
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Island, Ireland, Italia, Japan, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, Poland.
Does the ESTA approval guarantee entering into the United States of America?
According to Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), you are entitled to travel to the United States of America pursuant to the Visa Waiver Program. When entering the United States of America, an official of customs and border guard will examine you and decide about approval of your entrance.
Do I have to submit the ESTA application timely before traveling to the U.S.?
You can submit your ESTA application at any time; however, it is recommended to submit it at least 72 h before travelling to the U.S.
Can I submit the ESTA application repeatedly if it has been rejected?
If any of your circumstances have changed, you can submit the ESTA application repeatedly after 10 days. If you have included false information in your ESTA application, you will lose the right to travel in scope of the visa free program irrevocably.
What shall I do if my ESTA application is rejected?
If you cannot qualify for visa free program ESTA, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate and apply for non-immigrant visa B1/B2.
What is the amount of the ESTA application fee?
The U.S. government expense composes $21.00. Our service fee includes the U.S. government fee.
Can I make modifications to the ESTA application after its submission?
You can change the travelling route information in the application you have submitted. The ESTA application system permits updating the travelling data. You do not have to book plane tickets and a hotel before submission of the ESTA application.
Do I have to fill in I-94W permit if I have received ESTA?
Since implementing of the ESTA program, if you enter the U.S. by sea or air, the I-94W permit does not have to be filled in; the data are being registered electronically now.
Is it necessary to carry a copy of ESTA application to the airport?
According to the US regulations, it is not mandatory for one to carry with him a copy of the ESTA authorization in order to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. It is, however, necessary to have a copy for your records. Some airlines may require you to carry one and this may require you to have a printout. If you forgot your ESTA application number, you can obtain the application by just entering your applicant name, date of birth, passport number and the country issuing the passport in the ESTA website.
Which are the passport requirements in order for one to travel under the Visa Waiver Program?
The requirements for Visa Waiver Program are:
- The passport must be an electronic passport with digital chip carrying biometric information about the holder of the passport;
- It should contain a machine readable zone on the biographic page;
- Taiwan passport holders are required to provide the Passport Number and the Personal Identification Number (PIN);
- There is an exception effective July 1, 2009; Visa Waiver Program countries’ temporary passports and emergency passports must be electronic.
Is it possible to travel with medical instruments such as needles and oxygen tanks?
Medications should be in their original containers with the doctor’s prescription printed on the container. It is required that you only carry personal use quantities which are no more than ninety day supply. In case the prescriptions are not in their original containers, you are required to carry a copy of prescription or a letter from the doctor.
All medications entering the United States must have a doctor’s prescription. The FDA is mandated pharmaceuticals admissions. Any queries about specific pharmaceutical may be imported to the United States, contact FDA, Division of Import Operations and Policy, at (301) 796-0356. For one to travel with instruments such as oxygen gas, or items that could be a threat to the security, one must have a prescription letter from a doctor. For more information about additional requirements, contact Transportation Security Administration.
How do I make corrections on the ESTA application?
In case biometric information about your passport, for example, the name or sex, or date of birth, expiry date, country or citizenship has errors, you should make a new application or reapply in order to correct such an error. This will only be possible if your previous application had been approved.
Is it possible to apply ESTA for my child?
Yes. Accompanied or unaccompanied children require their own ESTA before travelling to the United States being a citizen of a visa waiver country. You should know the terms of ESTA on behalf of your children and answer questions honestly as a guardian.
Children are required to have their own unexpired passport to qualify for ESTA. Children’s passports are not eligible for ESTA unless issued before 26th October 2006. The document should meet Visa Waiver Program requirements.
Will my departure be affected if my ESTA expire after arriving into the US?
No. Your departure will not be affected but you will be required to renew your ESTA to re-enter the US after your departure.
Is illness like the flu or a cold in the US considered as a communicable disease?
Many communicable diseases are not a hindrance into entering into the US under the Visa Waiver Program. If you have any of the communicable diseases, you should indicate in your application. After being cured, you can indicate that you are healed although you will need a proof that you are not contagious.
Below are the communicable diseases under consideration:
- Granuloma inguinale
- Leprosy, infectiousma
- Lymphogranuloma venereum
- Syphilis (infectious stage)
- Tuberculosis (active)
How secure is my credit card information?
The ESTA system does not retain any information ones a transaction has been carried out.
For how long is my ESTA valid?
Travel authorizations are normally valid for two years since the date of authorization or until expiry depending on which comes first if not revoked. The screen will always show the expiry date of the travel authorization. ESTA authorization allows for several trips for a period of two years or until expiry of the passport.
After receiving ESTA travel authorization, you do not have to reapply during the validity period. Having ESTA does not guarantee you to stay in US for two years but allows you to stay there under the terms of Visa Waiver Program. You can stay in the US for ninety days or less.
If you wish to stay for longer, you must obtain a visa from the US Embassy. Change of the name or citizenship or gender or obtaining a new passport will require you to apply for a new travel authorization. It also applies if any of the answers to any Visa Waiver Program eligibility questions changes.
How do I renew an ESTA?
In case your ESTA has expired, you can reapply by submitting a new application at here. Already existing applications can never be extended. You don’t have to wait for your ESTA to expire, you can apply at any time before the expiry.
If you receive the message "A valid, approved application with more than 30 days remaining has been found for this passport.” Submitting this application will require payment for this application and will then cancel the existing application. You will be required to start your new application.
What is the essence of providing my employer information?
According to section 214b of the Immigration and Nationality Act, individuals must demonstrate that they do not intend to migrate to the United States and that they qualify for visitor status.
Must I have travel plans for me apply for an ESTA?
No. You must not have a travel plan at the time of application but you will need a U.S. point of contact. You will be required to provide address of where you will be staying in the US to complete the application. If there are several places you will visit, you can enter the name of the first place you will visit.
When should I apply for a visa instead of an ESTA?
You can apply for a visa instead of an ESTA if:
- You wish to arrive in the US aboard non signatory air carrier;
- You wish to stay in the US for more than ninety days;
- Travelling to the US for other purpose other than short term tourism or business;
- You believe that any grounds of inadmissibility of the Immigration and Nationality Act apply to you.
I have a dual citizenship and my non-Visa Waiver Passport is expired or I do not have a passport for that country.
In case you have several passports, enter details of the most recent passport even if it is expired. Dual citizens who do not have a passport from another country, should select a country from the drop down list but do not fill in the passport Number field.
What happens if a Visa Waiver Program applicant is found to be inadmissible?
Travelers seeking admission and are determined to be inadmissible to the United States under Visa Waiver Program will be returned to their country of origin or third country where he holds a round trip ticket, aboard the carrier on which the traveler arrived in the United States and denied admission.
Should the application be done in English even if the traveler’s keyboard does not type in English?
The application of ESTA must be done in English and the computer used must be configured for American English with suitable font for keyboard input. If the operating system of the computer is Microsoft Windows 95 or higher, please refer to the Conversation Exchange website for computer configuration.
If the computer cannot support Windows operating system, seek help from the information provided by the operating system vendor or read the documentation.