Do I Need a Visa for New York?

New York attracts huge numbers of tourists each year, as there are so many attractions and famous landmarks for travelers to visit. From watching a show on the legendary Broadway, to shopping on Fifth Ave and going to the top of the Statue of Liberty, there are so many exciting activities for tourists in the Big Apple. If you are thinking about planning a trip to NYC in the future, it is important to understand the requirements regarding travel authorization.

The US has a visa system in place that allows authorities to monitor who is visiting New York and the rest of the US. There is a range of different types of visa that are available to apply for, depending on the purpose of the visit and some of the other eligibility criteria regarding the applicant.

Citizens of countries within the Visa Waiver Program

There are currently 39 countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program , which means that the US has an agreement with the authorities in those countries that their citizens are visa exempt. Instead of applying for a US visa, they are able to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) instead, which is much quicker than applying for the US visa.

Who can apply for an ESTA?

Citizens of countries that are members of the VWP are able to apply for an ESTA if their visit to the US will be for less than 90 days in total and the purpose of their trip is for tourism, business or medical purposes. Therefore, if you are planning a family vacation to New York for a few weeks and you are from one of the countries listed under the VWP agreement then you can apply for an ESTA. You will need to apply for an individual ESTA for each family member.

However, if you are planning on going to New York, or anywhere else in the US, for a period longer than 90 days, or you intend on working or studying in the US, the ESTA is not appropriate for your type of visit. In this case, you would need to apply for the relevant visa i.e. a student visa or a certain type of working visa. Applying for a visa requires you to attend an interview at the US embassy in your home country as part of the application process.

How to apply for an ESTA

Applying for an ESTA is very straightforward and the whole process is completed online. You simply need to fill in the short online ESTA application form, pay the application fee and provide a valid email address to submit your application. The US authorities will review your application and you will get a response within 72 hours, although it is often much quicker than that. You will require a biometric passport that has at least six months validity left on it and if your application is accepted, the ESTA will be electronically linked to your passport.


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