ESTA (Visa Waiver Program)
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a visa waiver program that allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for business or tourism for up to 90 days without obtaining a traditional visa.
Here's a detailed description of the ESTA visa waiver program:
Purpose: The ESTA visa waiver program is designed to facilitate travel to the United States for citizens of participating countries who are visiting for business or tourism purposes. It allows eligible travelers to enter the U.S. without a traditional visa for a temporary period of up to 90 days.
Eligibility: To be eligible for the ESTA visa waiver program, travelers must meet the following criteria:
- Hold a passport from a participating country. (List of eligible countries is here)
- Be visiting the U.S. for business or tourism purposes only.
- Plan to stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less.
- Have a return ticket or onward travel ticket.
- Have no criminal record or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
- Meet any additional eligibility criteria established by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
- Travelers must apply for an ESTA online through the official ESTA website at least 72 hours before their planned departure to the U.S.
- The application requires basic personal information, passport details, travel itinerary and a fee.
- After submitting the application, the traveler will receive a response within minutes indicating whether or not their ESTA has been approved.
- Approved ESTA applications are valid for two years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first.
Restrictions: While the ESTA visa waiver program allows for temporary travel to the United States, there are some restrictions to be aware of:
Travelers cannot work in the United States while on an ESTA visa waiver.
Travelers cannot extend their stay beyond 90 days under the ESTA visa waiver program.
Travelers must depart the United States before the expiration date of their authorized stay.
Renewal: If a traveler's ESTA expires before their planned travel to the United States, they must apply for a new ESTA. If any of their personal information has changed (such as passport details), they must also apply for a new ESTA.
- Denial of ESTA application: If ESTA application is denied, a traveler must contact a US embassy or consulate and apply for a regular visa (B-1 / B-2).
It is important to note that travel on ESTA covers the same activities as activities cover by B-1 or B-2 visas.
Overall, the ESTA visa waiver program is a convenient and efficient way for eligible travelers to visit the United States for short-term business or tourism purposes without obtaining a traditional visa. It's important to apply for the ESTA well in advance of travel and to comply with all visa regulations and requirements to ensure a smooth and successful visit to the United States.