ESTA is the acronym for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. It is a travel authorization issued by the US to qualified citizens of 38 selected countries under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) after a successful application and approval.An ESTA allows you, the holder to visit the US by air or sea for business or holiday for a maximum period of 90 days; and is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires.
You can apply for your ESTA visa here: www.esta-registration.eu
Am I qualified for an ESTA?
Only eligible citizens of 38 selected countries under the US Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) can apply for an ESTA.
So if you’re an eligible citizen of a VWP country, you are qualified to apply for an ESTA.
The 38 countries VWP countries whose citizens are free to apply for an ESTA are:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
As a citizen of a VWP country, do I automatically qualify for an ESTA?
No. You have to be an ‘eligible’ or A ‘qualified’ citizen to apply for a ESTA.
The US government recently introduced changes to the eligibility of citizens of VWP countries for an ESTA.
Under the new rules, you may not be qualified to apply for an ESTA, even if you’re a citizen of a VWP if:
- You’re a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
- You have traveled to Libya, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011.
If I have an ESTA, will I still need to apply for a visa to visit the US?
No. An ESTA authorizes you to travel to the USA for business or leisure for a period not exceeding 90 days. So, you do not need a visa if you’re qualified and have successfully applied an ESTA.
A visa is a legal requirement to enter the USA by all foreign citizens. Citizens of VWP are exempted from applying for a visa.
Only non-US citizens who do not qualify for an ESTA or other special visa exemption programs of the USA are required to apply for a visa in their home embassies traveling to the USA.
How do I apply for an ESTA visa?
An ESTA application is done electronically through the authorized US website for its Department of Home Security, https://ESTA.cbp.dhs.gov/ESTA.
You can also apply through www.esta-registration.eu in you home country, however, unlike previously, you will now have to additionally go through a face-to-face interview with a US consular officer in your home country.
This follows the suspension of the Visa Interview Waiver Program by the new administration in the US.
Will I have to reapply for an ESTA each time I visit the US?
No, not if your ESTA validity period has elapsed or your passport has expired.
With an ESTA authorization, you’re allowed to enter the US multiple times within the validity of your authorization. You therefore do not need to reapply for an ESTA every time you plan to visit the US.
However, for each trip, you must not exceed the permitted period of 90 days, as it could affect your application for an ESTA or visa in the future; or prevent you from gaining entry into the US.
What information will I need to provide when applying for an ESTA?
When applying for an ESTA, you will be required to provide the following data:
- A current and valid e-Passport.
- Basic bio data including your name, date of birth, gender and other important other e-details on your e-passport.
- Proof your visit is strictly for business or tourism.
- Proof you will not overstay the allowed 90 days period.
- Proof you don’t have a current ESTA visa; as it could invalidate your application.
- Proof you’ve never been arrested for a crime, even if you were not convicted.
- Proof of financial capacity to sustain your maximum 90 days stay, even if you will be staying with family or friends in the US.
- Proof you don’t have a communicable disease.
- Proof you’ve never had a visa revoked.
What if some of these data change while my ESTA is still valid, will I need to reapply for a new authorization?
Yes, you may need to apply for a new ESTA authorization if you’ve updated certain information or your e-passport has changed, including:
- A change of first or last name, or both.
- A change of your gender category.
- A change of your nationality.
- A change in certain circumstances which information was required during your initial ESTA application, such as contracting a communicable disease or getting arrested for a crime. In such a specific case, an ESTA holder may be required to apply for another visa category to travel to the US stating the changes in their circumstances.
When is the right time to apply for an ESTA?
It is recommended that you apply for an ESTA authorization as soon as you determine you will be travelling to the US under the VWP; or at least 72 hours before you’re ready to board a plane or cruise ship.
How long does an ESTA authorization process take?
Normally, an ESTA authorization application takes seconds for a response. But sometimes the process may take longer. However, it usually never exceeds 72 hours after submission of an application.
What should I expect after submitting my application?
After the processing of your application, you will usually get a response stating your ‘Application Status.’
Your application is successful if you get an ‘Authorization Approved.’
If you get an ‘Authorization Pending,’ you may need to check back in 72 hours for any changes in your application status.
However, if you receive a ‘Travel Not Authorized’ response, you may have to apply for a visa instead to be able to gain entry into the US.
If my application was denied the first time, can I still reapply for an ESTA?
Yes. But you will need to wait for a minimum of 10 days and ensure certain information that invalidated your initial application has changed.
Be mindful that deliberate falsehood in the information you supply in data fields of your ESTA application could earn you a permanent ban from visiting the US.