If a trip to the United States in the near future is on the cards, be it for transit, a short visit, or a business trip, you need an ESTA visa. If you are unaware of what an ESTA is, what it implies, and why you need one, read this space below to find out the answers you are looking for.
What is an ESTA visa?
ESTA, Electronic System Travel Authorisation, is an automated program that the US has designed for individuals who are eligible for travel to the country under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The purpose of the introduction of this system was to make travel convenient and hassle-free for residents of the countries listed on the US visa free program. It was also intended to make the process more secure while promoting tourism
According to the Visa Waiver Program, citizens of 39 countries can travel to the US without a visa and stay there for up to 90 days. However, while you do not require a visa, you must register in the ESTA program if you want to enter the country. Once you have an ESTA, you will be able to stay in the US without needing a visa and can stay there for 90 days or less.
What an ESTA implies
When you apply for an ESTA, your application will comprise the biographic data and answer questions required to affirm the eligibility for entry under the Visa Waiver Program. However, it is important to note that while an ESTA endorses your eligibility to travel to the US without needing a visa, it does not determine your entry into the country.
Your admissibility into the country upon arrival is determined by US Customs and Border Protection only. You will be required to establish your eligibility for the VWP during an investigation by an official at the entry port.
For the VWP, it is required that the biographic page of your passport should have a machine-readable zone, and your passport must be electronic, i.e., it must have a digital chip that contains your biometric information.
Applying for ESTA
You can submit an application for ESTA at any time before you plan to travel. However, to be on the safe side, it is recommended that you must apply for ESTA as soon as you make travel plans or begin to prepare for your trip and get the process completed before you purchase.
In most cases, when you apply for ESTA, you will receive a notification in real time regarding the status of your application for travelling to the US. In an instance where your ESTA application is denied, you will need to apply for a visa at the US embassy or consulate near you.