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ESTA – Everything you need to know

Find out all you need to know about ESTA in this article before going to the United States of America. All your questions answered.

What is ESTA?

“ESTA” stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel in the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The application will collect some of your biographic and answers to VWP eligibility questions.

Please be mindful that an approved ESTA application does not guarantee your access in the United States. It is up to the U.S Customs and Border Protection officers to determine admissibility upon your arrival.

Do I need an ESTA or a VISA?

It might sound confusing but an ESTA is not a VISA.

An ESTA is an application done online, processed electronically and with an immediate response. You want to consider to apply for the ESTA if you are traveling as a tourist for less than 90 days; if you are traveling for a business trip (i.e. purchase/sell real estates, visit events and expositions etc..); if you are transiting to the US to travel t another country.

To get a Visa you will need to schedule an appointment with the Embassy/Consulate and have an interview with them before they can determine to grant such Visa.

You will need a Visa over the ESTA if you are entering the U.S. to work, to study or to get married.

What do I need to apply for an ESTA?

All you need to have to apply for the ESTA is:

How much does it cost?

As of today (17th June 2020), the cost to submit an ESTA application is $14 (USD) per traveller;

How long does it last?

ESTA lasts for 2 years and it is generally valid for multiple trips within these 2 year, or until your passport expires. You will not need to re-apply during the validity period.

Can I renew my ESTA?

The short answer is No. You cannot renew it if either your ESTA or passport expires. In both cases you will need to submit a new application.

How long does it take for my ESTA to be approved?

An ESTA application can take anything from one minute to 72 hours after you have submitted your application. Most application are approved immediately though.

I have already visited the U.S., do I need a new ESTA?

ESTA holders do not need to make a new application before each trip, as the travel authorization grants them the right to an unlimited number of trips. However, they must not overstay the 90-day period as this will have negative consequences on future ESTA or visa applications, as well as admission in the country.

Where can I apply for it?

You can apply for your ESTA application here: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov;

How long before my journey should I apply for my ESTA?

Although the general recommendation is to submit your application at least 72 hours before your departure, my strongest recommendation is to apply for the ESTA as soon as you know your travel dates. There is always a small chance that something could go wrong.

What if my ESTA has been refused?

If your ESTA will get refused for whatever reasons, you will need to apply for a visa if you still wish to travel to the U.S. You can find more information here https://usa-visas.com