Travelling to the US is a hassle even for citizens of friendly countries in Europe and Asia. Getting there on a short notice is nearly impossible. With tightened visa rules, your travel papers must be in perfect order for you to set foot in the USA. Fortunately, there is the ESTA visa waiver program that allows expedited processing of travel requests for citizens of some countries. If you need to get the US on a short notice, it is advisable you look up the ESTA website.
What is ESTA?
Many travellers keep asking, what is ESTA? Is it some special Visa? ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is the system that is used to rapidly determine if a person is authorized to enter the USA. This is for citizens of selected countries including:
- Czech Republic
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- United Kingdom
How to Apply
Applying for ESTA waiver is very easy and straightforward. You only need your passport. Log on to ESTA website and fill in the required details. Being a citizen of the ESTA USA visa waiver countries does not mean that you automatically get entry in to the US. There are 3 different responses you will get:
- Authorization Approved: This means you can enter the US
- Travel Not Authorized: Your application has been
- Authorization Pending: Your application needs more time for processing
If you get responses number 2 and 3, you can consult the nearest US embassy or consulate for proper visa processing.
It is highly advisable that you make the application as soon as you have the intent to travel to the US because you will have to apply for a visa in the normal way if ESTA application fails. The normal visa application could take up to 6 weeks to process.
How long does it take to process?
An application for ESTA visa USA is typically responded to within 1 minute.
How long is it valid?
If your application is approved, it will be valid for the next 2 years days running consecutively. You will be allowed multiple entries into the US lasting 90 days in those 2 years. If your passport expires, you will have to reapply for ESTA.
How do I get into the US?
Upon landing in the US, you will still have to be processed by customs and immigration that have the discretion of letting you through or barring entry.