This is a Guest Post by Susan Noel
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) came into effect in 2008. The system serves as a time and cost-effective alternative to the traditional United States visa. It was designed particularly for citizens of specific countries that are included in the visa waiver program. The United Kingdom was the first nation to appear in this list that has been growing over the years.
The primary difference between a visa and ESTA is that applicants eligible for an ESTA no longer need to follow the lengthy process of applying for a visa via the United States embassy or even consulate. Instead, the applicant can handle the entire ESTA application process online, even when he or she needs an ESTA in transit or for other reasons. Click here further information on applying online.
Every citizen from the countries included in the Visa Waiver Program planning to travel to the U.S must have an ESTA authorization. This includes babies and young children. Thanks to the explanatory nature of the online forms you’re supposed to fill in and the little time needed, you can complete multiple ESTA applications within a very short time.
To begin, you will require your passport, debit/credit card, and your email address. Make sure your passport is still valid at the time of placing your order, and it has a minimum of six months left from the time you intend to be in the United States. As soon as the applicant’s passport expires, the ESTA expires too. So, ensure you have enough time left before you submit your ESTA application.
The online ESTA application form requires you to provide your personal identification information, including your full name, date of birth, address, and more. Besides, you must list emergency contact information and the basic details about your employment. Don’t forget to complete the short set of security questions which are included in the form for the benefits of the United States security. Sure, these questions might be a little strange, but you must answer all of them.
Lastly, you will be asked to provide a location address where you intend to be staying once you land in the U.S. At the time you will be making the application process, you might not be sure about the address. Thus, you will indicate ‘unknown’ and then update these details later once you have made the necessary bookings.
Once you have filled in the entire form, review your information just to be sure you provided the correct details. Be sure to check for missing information, mistakes, and typos before submitting your ESTA application. Once you make the necessary payments, you will get a notification regarding the status of your ESTA via email within 24 hours.
If your request is approved, you will be free to head to the United States for business reasons, tourism, and other activities. Remember, you will be allowed to stay in the country for about 90 days (three months) or less.
The ESTA is valid for two years from the day it was approved. During this period, you can travel to the United States as many times as you like. However, you must comply with all the ESTA regulations, you shouldn’t exceed 90 days per trip, and that your passport doesn’t expire within this period.
ESTA and visas
Both visas and ESTA offer entry permissions to non-US citizens. The only difference is that the ESTA is valid for only citizens of countries that are listed on the visa waiver programme. Currently, this list has 38 countries, and the UK was the very first country to be approved. For those who want to work in the US, study for more than three months, get married, or seek permanent residence, they must apply for the corresponding United States visa.