What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Are you new to the term Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)? It’s an automated system that is used for determining a visitor’s eligibility for travelling to the USA under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program). Tag along to learn all about this program.

About ESTA

If you are an international traveller from VWP, you must apply and receive an approved travel authorization through ESTA to even get on board for a USA trip. Don’t confuse this authorization as guaranteed admission to the country. ESTA visa application only determines the eligibility of the traveller during an inspection at the port of entry.

ESTA doesn’t meet the legal requirements of serving a USA visa. If you are travelling on a valid visa, you won’t have to apply for it in the first place.

We are living in the times of blockchain technology, Artificial intelligence and, other digital disruptions. Rules and regulations have changed. No wonder the government made getting an ESTA mandatory in 2009. As per the law, whoever under the visa waiver program is entering the USA must hold an ESTA. If you are a foreign national, and you are not eligible for it or you have been denied, you are going to need a USA visa to enter the country.

How Long is ESTA Valid For?

An approved ESTA is valid for 2 years. During this validity period, you can make as many trips to the country regardless of the reasons (it could be for vacation, business growth, meet a relative, etc.,) without having to re-apply for an application.

You can only stay up to 90 days in the country at a time on an approved application. Other than this, there must be a reasonable amount of gap between your second visits. Otherwise, the CBP officer might think you are trying to live in the USA. However, there is no set limitation on how long one must wait between the visits.

Who Can Apply for ESTA?

Anyone who fits the following criteria can apply for the program:

  • You are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country
  • Must not have a visit visa
  • Your aim will be to stay for 90 days or less
  • You want to travel for business or pleasure

Here is a list of countries that are eligible for the waiver program:

Austria Hungary New Zealand
Andorra Italy Netherlands
Australia Ireland Norway
Brunei Iceland Singapore
Belgium Japan South Korea
Czech Republic Liechtenstein Spain
Chile Latvia Switzerland
Denmark Lithuania Taiwan
Germany Liechtenstein United Kingdom
Estonia Luxembourg Portugal
Finland Monaco Poland
Greece Malta  

How To Apply For ESTA?

If you are interested to apply for the ESTA application, these are the things you will need:

  • Valid passport from your country (probably the one that’s eligible for a Visa Wavier Program)
  • Valid email address
  • Your phone number and home address
  • Contact number and email of your emergency point of contact

There is an application fee for the program and its $14. You can make the payment via American Express, PayPal, MasterCard, Visa, or Discover.

Once your application is approved, start preparing your travel backpack for your journey.

FAQs

What is an electronic travel authorization?

It’s an automated system for determining the eligibility of the person travelling to the states under VWP.

What questions are asked on an ESTA?

1. Are you suffering from a mental or physical disorder?
2. Have you been convicted of a crime or arrested?
3. Have you violated any laws?
4. Have you been engaged in terrorist activity?
5. Have you committed fraud to enter the USA?
6. Are you seeking employment in the USA?
7. Have you ever been denied a USA visa?
8. Have you stayed in the USA for a period longer than granted by the government?

Who needs an ESTA?

Citizens of the VWP countries who want to enter the USA by air or sea need an ESTA.

How do I apply for an ESTA?

Visit the official ESTA website to submit your application.

What happens if you lie on your ESTA?

You might get in legal trouble or denied entry permanently.

Do I need to print my ESTA?

No, you don’t need to print it.

How long does an ESTA take to process?

It takes a minute for the ESTA application to be processed and approved online.

Can you get an ESTA at the airport?

Yes, you can get it at the airport. Last-minute and emergency travel applications are accepted as well.

How quickly can you get an ESTA?

You will receive authorization within 24 hours of submitting the application. Most of the time, the application is approved in a minute.

Does ESTA really take 72 hours?

Usually, the application is approved right away. However, depending on your case, it may take up to 72 hours.

Why would an ESTA be denied?

The most common reason for denied application is that you overstayed on your previous visit. If there’s any other reason, it will be written on your application.

What happens if ESTA is not approved?

If your ESTA application was denied, reapplying will not make you qualify again. If you apply with false information again, you might become permanently illegible to travel to the USA.

Can you get an ESTA in 24 hours?

Yes. A majority of the applications are approved within a minute of submission.

Why would you be denied entry into the US?

Overstay and expired documentation are common reasons. Some travellers are also denied entry because of criminal background problems but this happens rarely.

Why would my ESTA application be pending?

If your application is pending, that means the CBP is reviewing the information filled by the traveller. It may also signify that additional screening is required to process the application.

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