ESTA visa: what it is, how to apply for it to enter the USA

By TravelWiseMay 11, 2023 11:32 AMDocumentation
All aspects about ESTA visa
All aspects about ESTA visa. Source: Image Freepik

ESTA visa: how to apply for entry to the United States

Before traveling to the United States by air or sea, every British citizen, even if they are just passing through, must fill out the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form in advance.

Below, we've broken down the most pressing questions about ESTA: how to obtain it, how long it is valid, and what to look out for.

What is ESTA?

ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an electronic travel authorization system. It was created for nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program who plan to stay in the United States for no longer than 90 days. This system determines whether or not you can enter the United States without a visa.

Why do I need an ESTA?

The ESTA is required for nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program. Without ESTA, you cannot enter the United States.

ESTA visa - is the method of entry the USA. Source: Image Freepik

How do I apply for ESTA?

You can only apply for ESTA online. To do this, go to the official ESTA website and fill in all the required fields. Usually, your application will be responded to within minutes, but the process can take up to 72 hours.

You can apply for ESTA on the official ESTA website. When filling in the application form, you will need to give your personal details and travel information. To apply for ESTA, you must also have a biometric passport.

ESTA must be applied for just before your journey, otherwise you will lose money if your application is rejected.

When do I have to renew my ESTA?

The ESTA is valid for 2 years. However, if your ESTA application information has changed or your passport has expired, you must apply again for an ESTA.

If you plan to stay in the United States for more than 90 days, you must re-apply for a visa.

If you re-apply, you will have a new reference number and the old one will no longer be valid.

Where ESTA is required?

ESTA is required for entry into the United States. Citizens of countries participating in this program do not need a visa to visit the states, but must be approved for entry before travel.

An ESTA will also be required to visit Puerto Rico, Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hawaii, or Alaska, since these are U.S. states.

Visa or ESTA?

A visa and ESTA are two different things. The ESTA is for nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States. A visa is required for nationals of countries not participating in the Visa Waiver Program, or for those who plan to be in the United States for more than 90 days.

If your ESTA visa application is approved, you may enter the United States within 2 years of the visa being issued.

Also note that your ESTA visa approval does not guarantee your entry into the United States. The border authorities at the U.S. border will decide whether you can enter the United States.

What do I do if my ESTA application is denied?

If your ESTA application has been denied, you can apply for a visa. You will need to fill out an application on the official website of the U.S. Consulate and have an interview at the Consulate.

Please note that you will still be charged an administrative fee of $4 per rejected ESTA application. More information about visas is available on the U.S. Department of State website.

ESTA Fake Sites

Beware of scammers who offer to fill out the ESTA for a high fee or on fake websites. Always use the official ESTA website to fill out the application.

You can fill out the ESTA visa application online at the official website of the U.S. Department of State. You will need to provide your personal information, passport information, and your planned trip to the United States. You may also be asked some questions about your health and criminal history.

ESTA fee

After completing the ESTA visa application, you must pay a visa fee of $21. Previously, the fee was cheaper, but as of May 2022, the price has changed.

Now, when you pay the ESTA fee, you are making a contribution to the U.S. tourism promotion fund.

It turns out that this is not a visa fee, but a permit fee.

You can pay online with a credit or debit card.

Be careful - make sure your bank does not charge extra currency exchange fees.

What to consider when applying for ESTA?

Reference number.

If you have already applied for ESTA before, you don't have to fill in all the fields again in the application. All you have to do is enter your reference number.

If you have lost your reference number, you can look it up on the ESTA website. The website also has information about visa expiration dates.

Who needs ESTA?

All visitors to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program need an ESTA.

If you plan to stay in the United States for a long time - more than 90 days - you will need a visa.

But only U.S. Customs and Border Protection will decide whether you are allowed to enter the United States. Even with ESTA. Although there have been very few refusals from the border guards.

Green Form I-94W.

Previously, when you came to the United States you had to fill out a green I-94W form, which included the purpose of your trip and your contact information.

Now, for ESTA users, filling out the green I-94W form is not required, as the entry clearance process includes this form as well.

New passport - new ESTA

If you get a new passport, you need to make a new ESTA application.

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