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The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA Visa Waiver, is a program designed to strengthen the security of travel to the United States. Before you begin the online ESTA registration process for the ESTA form for the USA, make sure that you meet all of the ESTA requirements and are a citizen of an eligible country.

All individuals from Visa Waiver Countries planning to travel to the United States for up to 90 days must apply for the ESTA an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to their trip. The ESTA application process takes approximately 10 minutes per applicant. The American visa waiver application is straightforward and requires that the applicant completes all sections accurately.

The ESTA is an online authorization process that enables individuals to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days when they meet the ESTA visa application requirements, described below.

What do I need to apply for the American Visa Waiver?

To apply for the American visa waiver, ESTA, you must have a valid passport, email address, and debit or credit card. The passport should be from one of the eligible countries that have a visa waiver agreement with the United States.

Unlike a consular visa application process, obtaining an ESTA for the US is fairly simple. You are not required to go to an embassy or consulate. Furthermore, besides your passport, you won’t have to present additional documents such as a marriage license or a bank statement as it is the case with consular American visas.

Eligible applicants are able to complete the American visa waiver application in a matter of minutes. The ESTA form is only available online. This means that applicants can easily register for their ESTA on a computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

What are the ESTA Visa Waiver Application Requirements?

Those who wish to apply for an ESTA visa waiver should bear in mind the following application requirements carefully and make sure to meet all of them, in order to make a successful application.

  • The travel purpose must be either Tourism, Business, or Transit to another country. Study, work and permanent residence are not permitted on the US Visa Waiver Program.
  • Applicants must hold a valid passport with an electronic chip from one of the 39 eligible countries.
  • Under the US visa law, are not eligible to receive an ESTA those travelers who have been arrested or have criminal records, certain serious communicable illnesses, those who have been refused admission or have been deported from the United States, or have previously overstayed in the USA for more than 90 days on the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015, are also no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the ESTA Visa Waiver Program those travelers who have traveled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes). Travelers who are nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria are not eligible.

Which countries are eligible to apply for the ESTA?

ESTA Travel Application Process

The American visa waiver does not grant its holder the right to study, work, or live in the United States. The following are travel requirements each ESTA applicant should be aware of:

  • The visit to the US is for less than 90 days.
  • The purpose of the trip is tourism: vacation, visiting friends or family, leisure, or to receive medical treatment.
  • The purpose of the trip is business: to consult with business associates, negotiate contracts with potential clients.
  • Professional Events: the traveler will attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference in the U.S. or attend short-term unpaid training. An ESTA holder is not allowed to receive payment for attending an event except if they are going to be reimbursed for expenses paid during their visit.
  • Social Events: the traveler will engage in social events such as those hosted by a fraternal, social, or service organization. As well as participation in an amateur musical, sports, or similar events or contests. Visitors should not receive any gifts or awards that can constitute as a form of payment for their participation.
  • Recreation: the visit to the US is for a short recreational course of study. However, it is not allowed to take courses that award credit towards a degree.

What are the required documents to apply for an ESTA?

The only required document to apply for the American visa waiver is a valid passport from an eligible country. Before applying for an ESTA, however, the applicant must be sure that their passport:

  • Has a machine-readable code.
  • Has an electronic chip.
  • Valid at the time of application.
  • Valid at the time of departure from the US.

If the passport were to expire during the stay in the United States, it is essential that the ESTA holder does no stay in the country beyond the allotted 90-day maximum stay. If the visitor were to overextend their stay it could have a serious impact on future ESTA applications.

Besides the passport, each applicant must have an email address and a debit or credit card. Once an application has been submitted, an email will be sent detailing the status of the American visa waiver application. All communication with an applicant is done electronically, which is why it is significant that the traveler has access to their email address.

It is not possible to submit the visa waiver registration form without covering the ESTA fee first. Therefore, a traveler has to use a debit or credit card to cover the cost of their travel authorization.

How to Apply for an ESTA?

Those who wish to apply for an ESTA, need to meet the requirements listed above, before applying for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Prior to the trip, each foreign traveler should verify the validity of their passport.

Once approved, the ESTA visa waiver is valid for 2 consecutive years. It grants its holder the possibility to travel to the US on multiple occasions for stays of a maximum of 90 days. If the passport expires before the two-year mark, a new ESTA registration is needed.

When should I apply for the ESTA visa waiver?

The US ESTA visa application process takes about 10 minutes. Though most applications are quickly approved, the ESTA registration should be completed at least 72 hours before departure to the United States.

The ESTA is processed in less than 24 hours. However, in some cases, it may take longer to process, up to 72 hours. Foreign visitors are advised to apply ahead of time.

To complete an application process successfully, you need to pay the respective fee for the authorization. ESTA prices are the same for all citizens from visa waiver countries.

If the traveler does not hold a passport from a country in the Visa Waiver Program, they cannot apply for the ESTA. Instead, they may apply for a category B American visa at their nearest embassy or consulate.

ESTA Application Instructions

The American visa application process is simple to follow. The registration form is clear and has tooltips that help travelers throughout the registration form.

These are the necessary steps to be followed to obtain the American visa waiver.

  • Answer disclaimers.
  • Enter the required information.
  • Enter personal details.
  • Enter travel information.
  • Answer eligibility questions.
  • Review application.
  • Pay ESTA fee.

The ESTA form will ask that each individual applicant enters the following:

  • First name and family name.
  • Date of birth.
  • City and country of birth.
  • Gender.
  • Country of citizenship.
  • Passport number.
  • Passport issuance date, and issuing country.
  • Passport expiry date.
  • Email address.
  • Home address.

The applicant should answer yes or no to whether they have second citizenship or if they have had dual citizenship in the past.

Travel information from each applicant will be requested. In this section, the applicant should answer whether they are in transit to another country. They may enter the details of their accommodation.

The form requires that travelers respond to questions about their employment.

A question about social media has been included on the ESTA form. If not using one, the applicant can select no. If yes, then it’s also necessary to enter the social media platform in use as well as a social media identifier.

An emergency contact can be provided on the form. Though this is optional, and the traveler can answer no.

Travelers may register their parents’ names if they desire to do so. If not, they can answer no to this section and continue.

There are 9 security questions that should be answered. If an applicant has to answer yes to any of these questions, they are not eligible for the American visa waiver and should apply for a US visa instead.

Once the applicant has finished entering the necessary details and answering all of the mandatory questions, they may double-check that their information and responses are accurate and verifiable.

After reviewing the ESTA form, the applicant can proceed to payment. When the payment has been accepted the screening of the application will start.

Notification of acceptance and of the status of the application will be sent to the email registered on the ESTA form.

ESTA Form and Registration Process Guidelines

The ESTA form consists of sections regarding the candidate’s personal information, passport details, travel, and behavior. The ESTA application form gathers all of the traveler’s information in order to screen it against a series of databases.

During the application process, the applicant is required to fill in all mandatory fields, indicated in the ESTA form with a * sign. Help tips can be found on the side of each field, marked by a question mark.

Here are some essential ESTA form guidelines that will help applicants during the process:

  • Enter all information accurately.
  • Ensure that the information on the passport matches the info on the ESTA application.
  • Answer questions with honesty.
  • Revise all information before submitting the ESTA application form.
  • Make sure to provide a valid email address.

An approved ESTA will be electronically linked to the applicant’s passport. A valid ESTA is an obligatory entry requirement for all nationals from visa waiver countries.

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