If you are planning to travel to the United States for business or pleasure, you may need to obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). An ESTA is a streamlined tool that determines whether or not a foreign national is eligible to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
In this article, we have discussed in detail about ESTA authorization, including its requirements and eligibility criteria. So, without further ado, let's get into it!
Who is Eligible for ESTA?
To be eligible for ESTA, you must be a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, there are 39 countries that participate in the VWP, including most European countries, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and South Korea. You can check the full list of countries on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's website.
In addition to being a citizen of a participating country, you must also meet the following requirements to be eligible for ESTA:
Have a valid passport from a VWP participating country
Have a round-trip ticket to the United States
Have no criminal record or history of violating U.S. immigration laws
Not have been previously denied a U.S. visa or ESTA
Have a valid e-mail address
Before you apply for a US ESTA, there are a few things you must gather, also known as ESTA requirements. These requirements vary from applicant to applicant, depending on their purpose of visit and nationality.
Three of the most basic documents that VWP travelers need to apply for an ESTA include:
Valid Passport - You need to have a valid passport from one of the VWP countries. Your passport should have at least 2 blank pages and 6 months of remaining validity.
E-mail Address - applicant's email address will be linked to their passport. As you'll receive your approved ESTA via email, make sure to use a valid and active email address.
Means of Payment - Applicants are required to pay the embassy fee as well as the service charges to get an ESTA. As this entire system is streamlined, you can use online payment methods, including credit card, debit card, or PayPal account.
Keep in mind that these are the most basic documents required to apply for a US ESTA. Besides these, you may need several additional documents as well, including a bank statement, invitation letter, proof of funds, and so on.
How Do I apply for ESTA?
Applying for an ESTA is a simple and straightforward process. Unlike a traditional visa, you don't need to visit the nearest US embassy or consulate office, fill out multiple forms, and schedule a visa interview.
Instead, all you need to do is partner up with VisaHQ and complete the following process from the comfort of your home:
Complete the ESTA Application Form - The first step is to fill out the US ESTA application form. To do so, you'll need to provide personal, contact, travel, and passport information.
Pay the ESTA Fee - Next, you need to pay the ESTA fee, including the embassy fee as well as the service charges. To do so, you can use online payment methods, including a PayPal account or debit or credit card.
Submit your Application - Finally, submit your ESTA application with supporting documents. Before you submit your application, make sure to double-check the provided data. This is because
After application submission, you need to wait for a few days to get your ESTA approval. If your application is free of errors and mistakes, you'll get your ESTA via email without any delays.
ESTA Processing Time
The processing time for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application varies depending on a variety of factors, including the volume of applications being processed and the individual circumstances of each applicant. In general, most ESTA applications are processed within 72 hours of being submitted. However, some applications may take longer to process if they require additional review or if there are issues with the application.
Therefore, it's recommended to apply for US ESTA at least 2 weeks prior to the intended date of entry. With this approach, you'll have enough time to tackle issues regarding ESTA processing.
What if my ESTA Application is Denied?
If your Electronic Travel Authorization application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. You will need to schedule an appointment and provide additional documentation, such as proof of financial support and a letter explaining the purpose of your trip.
The process of obtaining a visa can be more time-consuming and costly than applying for ESTA, so it is important to ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements for ESTA before you travel.