If you have plans to travel to the United States, it is important that you understand what the ESTA is, and that you ensure that you have one before visiting. Many countries, in an effort to speed up the processing of visitors to the country, and maximise the security around who is coming in, have opted for a different type of visa process. This includes the United States which means that if you do have plans to travel there, you must understand what the visa requirements are, and how to go about obtaining it.
Let’s have a look in more detail about this visa process.
What is an ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic Travel Authorisation which, in short, is a new digital approach to apply for and approving a visa application. Before you travel to the United States, you must apply for, and be granted your electronic visa, or else you will be rejected from entry at the border, not exactly something that you want to happen at the beginning of your trip.
Do I Need One?
Those who need an ESTA are those who are citizens of a member country of the Visa Waiver Program, an initiative which was set up to help maintain security in terms of visitors to other nations within the program. Most western countries are in this program but if you are in any doubt, ask your travel agent or check for yourself here.
How to Apply
One of the most beneficial aspects of this new visa program is that application is incredibly simple and super fast. All you need to do is head over to the ESTA website, fill in some personal details and explain what your reasons are for traveling to the USA. You will also fill in a short questionnaire and then submit your application. Usually you will find out instantly whether or not you have been approved, although it is recommended that you wait 24 hours for your approval.
The cost of your visa application is $14, this is noon-refundable and so whether you are approved or not, this money will not be returned to you.
How Long Does it Last?
Once you have been granted your ESTA, you can freely travel to the US for 2 years, at which point you will need to apply again for your visa.
What if I Get Rejected?
Those who are rejected for the visa are those with criminal convictions, no-fly orders or those suspected of terrorist activity but there are some occasions where a visa application may get rejected for an alternative reason. These reasons could be owing to countries you have visited in the past, or even because of a glitch in the system. If you do get rejected, head to the US embassy and arrange an appointment, to find out why you were rejected, and what you can do about it. In most cases of rejection, the issue is easily resolved in the embassy.
Before you go to the USA, make sure that you have your visa approved, and up to date.