ESTA for US Travel Set for 50% Price Increase
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. The cost of ESTA is set to raise by a staggering 50% in the future, according to recent reports. Therefore, if you were thinking of visiting the US in the near future, it could be a good idea to get your ESTA now, as it stays valid for up to two years (provided your passport stays valid that long).
What is ESTA?
An ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization and it is available for citizens of countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program . The ESTA is a simpler equivalent of getting a visa to visit the US and it was designed to aid business and tourism in the US, whilst still ensuring security screening takes place and any potential risks to the US are managed through the process.
ESTA provides travel authorization for business, tourism, medical and transit purposes in the US. It is a much easier and faster alternative to obtaining a visa, as it requires the completion of an online form instead of attending an interview at the US Embassy, which citizens that are not from VWP countries must do.
One of the key benefits of an ESTA is that is enables travellers to visit the US multiple times using the same ESTA, as long as it is still valid. The ESTA is electronically linked to the applicant’s passport, ready for the border control agents to view on their system.
How to apply for an ESTA?
Firstly, check that you are eligible as a citizen from one of the Visa Waiver Program countries. If you are and you have a valid, biometric passport then you can apply for an ESTA by completing the online form that should take less than 20 minutes to complete. You will need to provide your passport details, as well as fill in personal information and answer some security related questions. You must have a valid email address and a card to make the payment with. Once you have completed the form, you are required to pay your application fee before submitting the form.
Once you have submitted the form, you will get a response via email to inform you whether the application has been approved. Usually, this will take around 24 hours or sometimes even faster. However, it is recommended that you apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before you plan to travel to the US. This should give you enough time in case there is a delay, or the system is having issues.
It is not yet clear when the potential ESTA application fee increase could come into place but you can save paying the increase of 50% if you get your ESTA now in readiness for US travel plans that you have within the next two years.