Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA, is a program run by the United States government that allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the US for short stays without obtaining a visa.
ESTA is a pre-screening tool that helps determine the eligibility of travelers to visit the US under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It is a convenient and cost-effective option for travelers from VWP countries who wish to visit the US for business or leisure purposes.
However, one important factor to consider when applying for ESTA is its validity period. In this article, we will explore how long ESTA is valid in the US and the factors that can affect its expiration date.
What is ESTA?
ESTA is a streamlined tool that determines whether or not a traveler is eligible to travel to the US without a visa. It was implemented by the US Department of Homeland Security in 2009 as a security measure to improve the screening process for travelers entering the US.
To apply for ESTA, travelers must complete an online application form and pay a fee. The application will be reviewed by the US government, and the traveler will receive a response within 72 hours. If approved, the ESTA will be valid for a maximum of two years or until your passport expires
How Long is ESTA Valid in the US?
The validity of ESTA depends on several factors, including the traveler's passport expiration date and the length of the intended stay in the US. In general, ESTA is valid for a maximum of two years or until your passport expires, whichever occurs first.
For example, if a traveler has a passport that is valid for five years and they are approved for ESTA, the ESTA will be valid for two years. However, if your passport expires in one year, the ESTA will only be valid for one year.
It is important to note that ESTA does not grant the holder the right to enter the US. It only determines the traveler's eligibility to travel to the US under the VWP. Travelers with a valid ESTA must still undergo inspection at the port of entry by a Customs and Border Protection officer, who will determine whether the traveler is admissible to the US.
ESTA cannot be directly renewed. Once it expires, travelers will have to apply for a new ESTA if they wish to visit the US again under the VWP.
However, if a traveler's ESTA is still valid, but they need to update their personal information, they can do so by submitting a new application. This could be necessary if the traveler has changed their name, gender, or nationality or if they have received a new passport.
Factors That Can Affect ESTA Validity
There are several factors that can affect the validity of ESTA, including:
Travel History: Travelers who have visited certain countries or regions may be required to obtain a visa before traveling to the US, even if they have a valid ESTA. This includes travelers who have visited Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan since March 1, 2011, or those who have dual nationality with one of these countries.
Criminal History: Travelers with a criminal record may be ineligible for ESTA. This includes individuals who have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or controlled substances or those who have been arrested for a crime that could carry a sentence of more than one year in prison.
Immigration Status: Travelers who have overstayed their visas or who have been deported from the US may be ineligible for ESTA. Additionally, travelers who have previously been denied a visa or ESTA may not be eligible to reapply.
Travel Plans: Travelers who have plans to work or study in the US will need to obtain a proper visa, as ESTA is not valid for these activities. ESTA is only intended for short stays in the US for business or leisure purposes.
It is important for travelers to consider these factors before applying for ESTA to ensure that they are eligible to travel to the US under the VWP.
ESTA Application Process
Applying for an ESTA is a straightforward and simple process. You don't have to visit the nearest US embassy or consulate office. You don't even have to schedule a visa interview, which is mandatory for a traditional visa!
To apply for a US ESTA authorization, all you need to do is visit VisaHQ and follow the following steps:
Select your citizenship and travel destination
complete the US ESTA application form
pay the ESTA fee
Submit your application
Once you submit your application, the embassy will process it, and you'll receive your travel document via email. Afterward, you can pack your bag and enter the United States of America for tourism and business purposes.