What you should know about ESTA for United States
Have you ever had of a visa waiver program? Well, a visa waiver program, commonly known as the VWP is simply a program that allows people from other nationalities to travel to the United States without visas.
This can only happen if you have an electronic passport that can be read by a machine but before travelling to the United States under this program, you will be required to get an authorization so that you can be able to use it.
This is what is known as the electronic system for travel authorization or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
What is ESTA?
This is usually an online based system designed to assist the U.S government to check whether the travelers who are seeking to enter U.S.A are qualified to do so. The system was put in place in 2009 with the main motivation behind it being to improve on the security.
When applying for the ESTA visa, you might be asked some questions in order to determine your eligibility for the program. These questions include your criminal history, passport, nationality among others.
The VWP program currently applies to only 38 specific countries. This enables citizens from these countries to travel or enter the U.S.A. without even having a full U.S. visa.
Well, the travelers still have to go through the ESTA vetting process and are only required to get a full United States visa when they don’t pass the process.
This helps in making the visa process easier and smoother. Below are some few things you should know about the ESTA
7 Things You Should Know about ESTA
- If you are a citizen of Micronesia, Bermuda, Marshall Islands and Canada, you don’t need an authorization via the ESTA program before you can travel.
- Before boarding, the travelers are required to be authorized via the ESTA program. However, it is usually recommended that the travelers apply 72 hours before.
- This authorization is usually communicated to airlines which can also deny the boarding of any VWP passenger if he or she doesn’t have ESTA authorization. Also, the CBP officers at the entry port have the right to deny you entry if you are not authorized.
- When applying for ESTA, most of the applicants will always get immediate determination for your application. You will always receive any of these three responses.
- Authorization approved: meaning the person is allowed and can now be able to travel using the VWP program to the U.S.
- Authorization pending: meaning the applicant should check again after 72 hours of application and see if there is any update concerning the application on the website.
- Travel not authorized: meaning the traveler’s request has been declined hence he or she can not travel using the visa waiver program and must now obtain a full U.S. visa from a United State Consulate.
- There is a small amount of fees you will be required to pay for the ESTA process.
- Processing charge: usually around $4 and is a requirement from all the applicants.
- Authorization charge: usually around $10 and only applies to those applicants who have already been authorized.
These can be paid through a debit or credit card as both can be allowed.
- The payment for the ESTA process can be done by a travel agent or a third party for the application to be prepared.
- When travelling, you don’t have come with a copy of your ESTA status. However, it is strongly advised that you keep with you a printout copy of your status confirmation containing your application number. This might help in case of any updates or changes that might be required.
- Those under the VWP program and are applying for the ESTA are required an e-passport readable by a machine. This requirement is a must have for everyone.
Well, there are many things that you need to know about the electronic system for travel authorization and these are only a few of them.
Travelling under the VWP program as we have seen can allow you to enter the U.S. for a period of not more than 90 days without having a visa.
However, it is important for you to know that an ESTA and a VISA are not the same neither is it an application for you to be admitted in to the U.S. as you can still be denied entry in to the U.S even if you are authorized.
If you are having questions concerning the United States visas to invest, live or work in the States, you can always contact one of the migration lawyers and get all your questions answered.