Benefits of Applying for an ESTA Visa

Historically, travelling to the US was much more complicated and required attending the US Embassy for an interview to obtain a US visa. The process was very lengthy, with long forms to complete and could take weeks or even longer to get a visa. Now, eligible people are able to apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) instead, which is completed digitally and is a faster and cheaper alternative to applying for a US visa.

Eligibility requirements for US ESTA

You must meet all of the following criteria to be eligible for applying for an ESTA, otherwise you will need to apply for a US visa:

  • You must be a citizen of a country in the Visa Waiver Program (see list below)
  • You have a valid, biometric passport
  • Your passport remains valid for the full duration of your intended trip to US
  • You will not be staying in US for longer than 90 days
  • You are visiting US for business or tourism purposes
  • You have the finances to pay for your stay and the return journey
  • You have a credit or debit card to pay the application fee with
  • You already have an onward or return ticket out of the US
  • Entry to US is with a permitted transport company e.g. airline or ship company

Also, note that any children’s passports/ID cards issued after 26/10/2006 are not eligible for visa-free entry to US, an ESTA is required for them.

Who can apply for ESTA?

Citizens that are from the 39 countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are able to apply for an ESTA. The ESTA was established to enable citizens of countries that match certain security criteria to travel to the US without a visa. The requirements listed above must be applicable for the ESTA to be approved.

How does the ESTA work?

When you apply for ESTA and it is approved, it will then be automatically linked to your biometric passport. When you go to the border control, the agents will check your passport to see if there is a valid ESTA linked to it. A valid, up to date passport is essential for visiting the US.

Which countries are in the VWP?

The US officials regularly review and discuss the membership of the VWP with the respective countries. New countries are occasionally added to the VWP, once US officials are happy that they have met the required criteria.

The 39 countries that are current members of the VWP are:

(Year of becoming a member of VWP is shown in brackets).

Examples of when an ESTA USA can be used:

▷ A sightseeing trip to the US

Visiting the US for the purpose of a holiday lasting less than 90 days, such as:

  • A road trip through different parts of the US like Route 66
  • A week in NYC for shopping and visiting landmarks
  • A beach holiday to Miami
  • A family trip to Orlando to go to theme parks

▷ You have business meetings in the US

Through your job (non-US based) you are planning to attend a business meeting, maybe with a client or people working for your company at their US office. Business conferencesand other business related events can be attended. Your visit is a short trip and your employment remains in your home country.

▷ Airport stopover is in the US

When you are flying indirectly to a destination and there is a stopover at a US airport. Unlike most other countries, the US does not have any transit area, so you require an ESTA for the stopover.

Examples of when an ESTA CANNOT be used:

▷ You have applied to study in the US and intend to stay there for longer than 90 days

If you are applying to study in the US, you will require a student visa which you can apply for via the US Embassy. ESTA only applies for US stays of less than 90 days and studying is not permitted, with the exception of a short recreational course such as a cooking class.

▷ You are travelling to the US to get a job

Employment is not permitted under an ESTA, you will require the relevant type of employment visa if you intend on working in the US. This includes taking on a temporary job to pay for your US travel plans, even if it for less than 90 days.

▷ You are getting benefits in exchange for unpaid work

Arrangements such as doing unpaid work in exchange for food and/or accommodation is not permitted under an ESTA. This would be classified as employment and would require the relevant type of visa for the type of work involved.

▷ How to apply for an ESTA

To apply for your ESTA, simply complete the online form:

https://www.estaform.org/application

The form should take around 10 minutes to complete and you will need to have your passport details, a credit or debit card to make the application payment with and a valid email address that you can access to receive correspondence regarding your ESTA application.

If you have any questions regarding the ESTA application process, the team of ESTA experts will be able to guide you through every detail on the form. They can help with questions regarding:

  • Your eligibility for ESTA
  • Requirements for children
  • What details are mandatory
  • Why the detail you provided in a field is not accepted

and many more questions you may have.

Additional information regarding ESTA application and validity

Applying for an ESTA is a quick and simple process and most applications receive a response within 24 hours, however sometimes it takes longer so it is recommended to apply at least 72 hours before the intended time of travel.

It is very important to check through the details in your application before you submit it, as any errors will usually lead to the ESTA getting declined and could impact your travel plans.

The application form requires you to complete all of the details that are marked as compulsory by an asterisk. If any of those fields are left blank, you will not be able to submit your application.

Trump’s Latest Attacks on Sanctuary Citiesclock

Trump’s Latest Attacks on Sanctuary Cities

It is no secret that Donald Trump has been keen to make it harder for non-US citizens to move to the US, with particular countries targeted for the travel ban.

Read More...
Businesses to Pay the Price for Immigration Fee Hikes in the USclock

Businesses to Pay the Price for Immigration Fee Hikes in the US

Donald Trump promised to introduce stricter immigration policies and he certainly has prioritised this so far in his tenure. His latest proposed rule, His latest proposed rule, as announced by the Department of Homeland Security...

Read More...
US to step up ban on ‘Birth tourism’clock

US to step up ban on ‘Birth tourism’

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus was first reported in China on 31 December, it has claimed the lives of at least 300 people, with over 14,000 people thought to be infected around the world.

Read More...
Good News for Croatian Citizens Visiting the USclock

Good News for Croatian Citizens Visiting the US

When visiting the US, foreign nationals are required to have either a visa, or an ESTA (if they are eligible). The US operates with a strict security process of screening people who are entering the US and the countries that are in the Visa Waiver Program have to pass a set of criteria before they can become members

Read More...
US Travel Ban for Europe Excluding UKclock

US Travel Ban for Europe Excluding UK

With the number of coronavirus cases and deaths rising each day in the US, Donald Trump has just announced that all travel from Europe is now banned for 30 days, with the exception of UK and Ireland.

Read More...
Trump’s Immigration Policies Continue to Split Families Apartclock

Trump’s Immigration Policies Continue to Split Families Apart

Donald Trump has been busy making lots of changes to the US immigration policies and travel rules and recently added six countries to his controversial travel ban.

Read More...
US to step up ban on ‘Birth tourism’clock

US to step up ban on ‘Birth tourism’

Donald Trump has been busy making lots of changes to the US immigration system over the last few years, in his quest to protect the US with a stricter approach to allowing foreign citizens to enter the US.

Read More...
The Huge Impact of the New US Visa Rules in Immigrant Communitiesclock

The Huge Impact of the New US Visa Rules in Immigrant Communities

As Trump’s latest travel ban has been brought into effect, immigration communities are growing increasingly concerned about the impact it will have on being reunited with their families.

Read More...
Trump outlines plans to expand travel ban to 7 more countriesclock

Trump outlines plans to expand travel ban to 7 more countries

US President Donald Trump has announced that he will add seven more countries to his UStravel ban during an interview this week with the Wall Street Journal. Trump first introduced the controversial ban in 2017, which banned Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Read More...
Trump Bans UK and Ireland Travellers, Whilst UK Government Advises Against Travel to USclock

Trump Bans UK and Ireland Travellers, Whilst UK Government Advises Against Travel to US

Over the last week, there have been some significant changes to how countries are approaching their efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The US last week announced that travellers from many countries in the EU had been banned, including Italy, France and Spain.

Read More...
Social Media Accounts Now Requested for Visa Applicationsclock

Social Media Accounts Now Requested for Visa Applications

Social media usage is higher than ever and its introduction has changed processes from companies’ marketing campaigns, to following the lifestyles of your avourite celebrity. Given how prominent it is now, it is no surprise that it is being used.

Read More...
Trump Announces Immigration Suspensionclock

Trump Announces Immigration Suspension

Donald Trump has just announced that he plans to suspend immigration to the US as part of the country’s approach to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read More...
How Coronavirus Could Affect the Travel and Tourism Industry?clock

How Coronavirus Could Affect the Travel and Tourism Industry?

Cince the Coronavirus first emerged, the travel and tourism industry has been rocked, with hotel lockdowns, travel bans and airlines cancelling flights as different countries have stepped up their measures to try and prevent the spread of the disease.

Read More...
72 Hour ESTA Rule Catches Out Travelers to the USclock

72 Hour ESTA Rule Catches Out Travelers to the US

The ESTA system that is available to citizens of the Visa Waiver Program can usually be processed very quickly but there are times when this is not possible. Earlier this year, the US government updated their guidance to state that people traveling to the US should apply at least 72 hours before the departure time.

Read More...
Cypriot Citizens Could Soon Benefit from Joining US Visa Waiver Programclock

Cypriot Citizens Could Soon Benefit from Joining US Visa Waiver Program

The criteria for countries being eligible to join the Visa Waiver Program is regularly reviewed and we have seen with the recent addition of Poland into the VWP and the US government is continually working with other countries to help get to a position where they can join.

Read More...
The Latest Immigration News: Justice Department Takes New Steps to Denaturalize Immigrantsclock

The Latest Immigration News: Justice Department Takes New Steps to Denaturalize Immigrants

The latest in a long list of immigration changes have been rolled out this week, as a new office has been set up with a focus on denaturalization of serious criminals.

Read More...
Poland Nominated for Visa Waiver Programclock

Poland Nominated for Visa Waiver Program

There is good news for Polish citizens who want to enjoy an easier process for visiting the US. Currently, any Polish citizen looking to visit the United States must apply for a visa to grant entry permission...

Read More...
US Announces Extension to Canada and Mexico Travel Restrictionsclock

US Announces Extension to Canada and Mexico Travel Restrictions

Following the initial travel restrictions announced between the United States and Canadian and Mexican borders, the US officials have just announced that they will extend the restrictions by a further 30 days due to the Coronavirus pandemic that has been so devastating in the US.

Read More...
Coronavirus: Is It Safe To Travel From The UK To The USA?clock

Coronavirus: Is It Safe To Travel From The UK To The USA?

The news channels have been dominated with updates on the fast-spreading coronavirus and the Government has been quick to react to the outbreak in the UK with an emergency Cobra meeting. Huge sports events have been cancelled, whilst schools affected by the virus have been closed as a precaution and closing more schools...

Read More...
US Border Restrictions Extended Indefinitelyclock

US Border Restrictions Extended Indefinitely

Since the COVID-19 pandemic first appeared in the US, there has been a great amount of disruption and uncertainty, as the Government seeks to balance the US economy’s best interests whilst also trying to prevent the wider spread of the virus.

Read More...
ESTA for US Travel Set for 50% Price Increaseclock

ESTA for US Travel Set for 50% Price Increase

Donald Trump has introduced a number of changes to the There have been lots of changes to policies involving travel to the US over the last few years, with Donald Trump driving changes to immigration policies and now the ESTA fee looks set to increase too.

Read More...
Court Blocks Trump’s Attempt to Deny US Immigrant Visasclock

Court Blocks Trump’s Attempt to Deny US Immigrant Visas

Donald Trump has introduced a number of changes to the US immigration process since coming into his role as President and the latest change he tried to introduce was to deny visas for immigrants that are unable to afford health care.

Read More...