To visit the US for tourism or some business activities visitors can use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA visa) authorization system. It is a great way to speed up the process that would normally take a really long time for the regular visa. However, there are different ESTA US travel requirements that must be reviewed. Most of these are connected to the 1988 Visa Waiver Program.
Here is a walkthrough of the most important requirements travellers should be aware of. However, many other requirements do apply so be sure to check everything before filing the application.
- A passport from a country accepted in the Visa Waiver Program is needed.
- Machine-readable section must be present on biographic
- Passport must be valid at ESTA application date with validity extending for over 90 days after planned US entry date.
- Passport needs to be electronic and include a chip with personal biometric data.
- US visit needs to be less than 90 days.
- You can visit for vacation, tourism, visiting family and friends or receiving medical treatment.
- You can visit for business to consult or negotiate contracts.
- You can visit for social events like those that are hosted by a service organization, social organization or fraternal organization.
- You can participate in amateur sports, musical or similar contests or events.
- You can participate in educational, business, professional and scientific events. Payment cannot be received for these.
- Recreation is also a reason why you would be allowed to visit through ESTA.
ESTA Application Requirements
Application for ESTA is done online and it is mandatory to apply before departure. A response can be received in just minutes but it is possible to have to wait up to 72 hours because of extra needed processing.
Other ESTA Requirements
When arriving by sea or air, a return ticket or a ticket that to another destination (Non-US) is mandatory. If an electronic ticket is used, an itinerary copy is needed for US immigration presentation at the port of entry to the country. If arriving by land, form I-94W is needed. CBP authorities offer them.
A Visa may Be Needed
In the event that the ESTA requirements are not met, the only option that remains to enter the US is to have a valid visa. This is also the case in the event that ESTA approval is in place but the desired stay is longer than ninety days. An ESTA visa cannot be used to study in the USA, and an applicant cannot become a resident if they entered the country through ESTA.
In the event that the ESTA application is refused, the only option that remains is applying for the appropriate visa, unless the reason for ESTA denial was because of a mistake made on the application form. When a mistake was made in the application, an email must be sent to the US CBP so that changes are amended. This is the fastest way to solve such a problem.