The ESTA Visa Waiver program (or Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) is a waiver program that can be a little confusing for those that have never used it before, but this article will talk more about what it is, things to remember and how to help you to use it successfully on your next visit to the United States.
What is it?
The ESTA is a web based system that determines whether visitors to America are able to travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This means that if the person is successful in obtaining the ESTA, they are not required to have a specific visa for their visit. This is also a great system, because once you apply you are able to utilise the program for multiple trips for two years (you will need to apply again after this period and want to travel again to the United States).
How long can I stay?
Generally under the VWP you can stay for up to 90 days as a tourist and this is one of the main purposes of the program. It is possible to leave the US border and re-enter, but if you are intending to work or stay for an extended period it is a much better idea to apply for the relevant visa, as it will make things much simpler.
Why does it exist?
The United States of America makes a very big effort to protect its borders and naturally has chosen to screen people visiting the country. This is a much faster and efficient way of determining eligibility for travel to the United States and means that you don’t need to go through a longer process to apply for a visa for a simple visit.
What exactly do you need to do?
You will need to provide various personal details relating to you and your background. It is also mandatory to have a valid passport, it is also recommended to have at least 3 to 6 months of eligibility left on your passport and this is something that most countries will require upon entry.
How to do it
Filling out your ESTA can be a complicated process, as there are specific rules for people living in different countries and for this reason there are sites that are available that can help you to successfully obtain an ESTA. It is also possible to do it yourself, but this can be troublesome and can cause issues if it is filled out incorrectly, particularly when actually reaching the United States border.
Make a copy
You are not required to physically have a copy of your ESTA with you, as an electronic record is kept by the US government and can be easily retrieved if they query anything at the US border, but the reality is that most airlines won’t even let you on their plane if you don’t actually have the ESTA with you in a paper or soft copy. Therefore it is a good idea to keep a paper copy on you, as well as a soft copy on your mobile phone, tablet or laptop. This will prevent any hiccups at the airport and gives you one less thing to worry about.
Have you gone through the visa application for the USA? We would love to hear about your experiences and tips for completing the process successfully. As A travel community we can help one another by giving others help and advice. I am really looking forward to reading all of your stories, all you have to do is put everything in the comment section below this blog post. Thanks for reading guys!