To answer this question, a few things have to be considered.
- Are you a citizen of Ireland?
- Are you travelling for tourism, transit or business purposes?
- Do you intend to spend 90 days or less on your visit?
- Do you have an e-passport?
- Do you have a clean criminal record?
- Are you free from communicable diseases?
- Do you have dual citizenship with Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria?
- Have you visited Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Yemen or Syria on or after March 1, 2011?
If your answer to questions (1-6) above are yes and your answers to the last two questions are no, then you are qualified to travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program . This is because Ireland is one of the 38 countries that are under the Visa Waiver Program administered by the Department of Homeland Security of the United States.
The Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without having to obtain a visa for a period of 90 days or less, for tourism or business purposes. Take note that those allowed under this program are citizens of the participating countries and not residents, so if you are a resident of Ireland and not a citizen, the visa free program doesn’t apply to you.
If you are qualified under the Visa Waiver Program, make sure you get an ESTA.
Security precautions made the United States government to make a decision to exempt citizens that are qualified under the Visa waiver program but have travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Libya, Somalia and Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country).
Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria are not eligible under the Visa Waiver Program and are not allowed to apply for an ESTA.
It has been mandated that individuals who want to travel under the Visa Waiver Program should get an ESTA approval before travelling. This has been a compulsory requirement since January 2009. Failure to get this approval will lead to not being allowed to board your flight.
ESTA is an abbreviation for Electronic System Travel Authorisation. It is an automated system used by the United States of America to determine the eligibility of someone who wants to enter the USA under the Visa Waiver Program.
The ESTA is able to determine a traveller’s eligibility by processing biographic information and answers submitted for the Visa Waiver Program, bordering on law enforcement and national security.
You can apply for it here . Make sure you follow the procedure marked out for the application.
Before you apply, make sure the following checks out:-
- Travel must be by an approved air or sea carrier and you must have a round trip ticket indicating a return passage to a country outside the United States.
- If you have had a U.S. visa before or previously travelled to the United States under the VWP or another status, you must have complied with the conditions of previous admissions to the United States.
- Make sure you have a valid e passport (a symbol of biometrics is usually printed on the cover of this kind of passport. It contains an electronic chip that makes it easy to authenticate the holder).
- You should also make contact information details available (of the place you will be visiting in the United States and also your personal contact information).
- Provide your most recent employment details (for where it applies).
The customs and border protection department advise that the application for an ESTA approval should be done as soon as you start to make your travel plans or at least three days before your flight.
The system is designed to determine whether you are eligible or not, so you are likely to get any of the following replies:
- Authorization Approved. This means that your travel authorization has been approved and you have been given authority to proceed with your travelling plans to the United States. The system then displays confirmation of the application approval and a payment receipt notice showing the amount or your payment. Please take note that a travel authorization doesn’t automatically guarantee entry into the United States. Admission into the country is at the prerogative of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer at a port of entry. The system also displays a payment receipt notice showing the amount of your payment for the processing of the ESTA application.
- Travel Not Authorized.This means that you are not authorized to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. You however, have the option of applying for a visa from the department of state for your travel. Please visit the U.S. Department of State Web site at http://www.travel.state.gov for additional information about applying for a visa. Take note that this response is not a denial of entry; it just means that you are not allowed to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
- Authorization Pending. This means that your travel authorization is under review because an immediate determination could not be made for your application. This response doesn’t automatically mean negative findings. A conclusion on your status will usually be made available to you within 72 hours.
You need a Visa when:-
- You will be spending more than 90 days on your trip.
- You want to visit the United States for reasons other than tourism and business.
- You have dual citizenship with Iraq, Sudan, Iran and Syria.
- You have travelled to Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011.
- You have a criminal past or a communicable disease.
- Your application for an ESTA was denied.