ESTA for dual nationals: What can I do?

ESTA for dual nationals

Generally, completing the ESTA application online is a simple and straightforward process. However some areas of the application can cause confusion if you don’t know where to find the answers. One such point of uncertainty is the ESTA for dual nationals who wish to travel to the US.

Dual nationality means that a person has the right to claim multiple citizenships, for example, if a person’s parents come from two different countries. Not all countries allow dual citizenship. Those that do offer their citizens the opportunity of a passport from two or sometimes more countries, which is where confusion sets in. Some people wonder which passport should they use for their ESTA for the USA, and if it allows multiple passports or dual nationality.

How to apply for an ESTA with dual citizenship

An ESTA for multiple passports does not necessarily exist. If you have dual citizenship either with or without multiple passports you can still apply for an ESTA as long as at least one of the countries that supplies your passport(s) is part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The Visa Waiver Program USA is an agreement between America and 39 other countries whose citizens are able to travel to the US without the need to apply for an Embassy or Consulate visa. The list of countries includes Australia, UK, New Zealand and most of the EU member states.

The VWP allows citizens with a passport from any of these countries to enter the United States without a visa. However, they are required to obtain an ESTA to enter the country. To obtain an ESTA with dual citizenship, one passport must be from a visa waiver country, providing that the passport meets the ESTA eligibility requirements. In short, the applicant must have a valid passport from one of the countries in the VWP.

In the case of travelers to the US who need to apply for the ESTA for dual citizenships with no passport, it is imperative that before making any visa application, the citizen obtains a passport from at least one visa waiver country in order to be eligible for the ESTA. Once the applicant has a valid passport they can complete the ESTA application form. The applicant will receive an ESTA denial if they apply with a passport from a non visa waiver country.

If I have dual citizenship, which passport do I use to travel with the ESTA?

When travelers have dual-nationality of two countries within the VWP they can choose to travel with one or the other passport but it is important to remember which, in order to present it to all security controls throughout the journey. It is not possible to obtain the ESTA with multiple passports as the information regarding the travel authorization will be linked to just one of the passports and to avoid an ESTA denial it’s very important to use the correct information from just one passport.

If the traveler is applying for an ESTA for dual citizens with one non-immigrant country, that is to say with only one citizenship within the VWP, it is obligatory to use that passport to apply for the ESTA and travel to the US. With the other passport, the traveler will need to apply for a different kind of visa, not available electronically.

One of the most common doubts that emerge for citizens with multiple passports from visa waiver countries is what passport to use to travel to the US with dual citizenship. The truth is, they can use either passport, as long as the passport meets the ESTA eligibility requirements. This means that it should be valid for at least six months. Once the traveler submits the ESTA with one of their passports, they need to travel to the US with the passport used in the application.
The decision might be easier for applicants that have a passport from a visa waiver country and a passport from a country outside this program. In this case, the traveler needs to apply for the ESTA with the passport from the country member of the VWP. This is the passport that should be presented upon arrival in the US. In the case that the traveler wishes to use the other passport, then they should apply for a B1 or B2 american visa at an embassy or consulate. The traveler can apply for the ESTA when a previous visa has been denied as long as the passport is valid and from a visa waiver country.

Traveling with ESTA as a dual citizen

If you are applying for your ESTA with multiple passports, it is essential to remember first that the information used to apply for the ESTA must be correct and up-to-date. It is very important to double check the ESTA form before submitting it.

Secondly, it is also vital that the passport used to apply for the ESTA be a biometric chip passport as the ESTA is an electronic travel authorization linked electronically to the holder’s passport in order to facilitate the American authorities’ access to the traveler’s details when in the US.

Another factor to be considered when traveling with an ESTA with a dual nationality is that it is key to print the ESTA authorization before departure to ensure you have on hand the confirmation of your approved travel visa waiver and the application number. The Department of Homeland Security strongly recommends printing out at least one copy of the ESTA.

When it comes to applying for the ESTA, the double foreign national will need to indicate the information from both nationalities including both passport numbers, where applicable. When you fill in your online ESTA application you will find a tick box that asks whether you have any other passports besides the one you are using to make your ESTA application. The US Government states that if you do not have this information currently you should either include the previous passport details from the second country or leave the number field blank while ensuring to state to which nation your citizenship corresponds.

Issues when applying for the ESTA with a dual citizenship

A specific ESTA for dual citizenship does not exist. The main issue when applying for the ESTA with multiple passports is that the applicant can only use one of the passports to complete the online ESTA form. The passport used to complete the ESTA is the passport that the traveler needs to present at a port of entry upon arrival in the US.

When the traveler arrives in the US, immigration officials will revise the passport and check the identity of the person entering the country. In the case of a person with dual nationality, their background information might be doubled checked to ensure that he or she does not have intentions of staying illegally in the US.

Another aspect that travelers with dual nationalities should consider is that it is best to have their passports up to date. If you need an ESTA with your dual citizenship, check the validity of both passports and complete the ESTA form carefully.

Dual citizenship ESTA Form

When the times comes to complete the form for an ESTA for dual nationality, you can fill in the details of both your passports. One passport, the one you apply with, will be the main one. However, within the ESTA form you can complete the question that asks you to fill if you have another passport. If you don’t have this information at hand, you can use the number of the previous second passport or just leave it blank, indicating the country your second passport is from.

You should consider that if in the past you were denied a visa, this is registered in the US immigration system. Immigration officials do not classify travelers based on the nationality of their passport but on their names and personal details. Because there is a record of you being denied an ESTA, when you chose to apply for a new ESTA you should be honest. It’s strongly recommended to be sincere and transparent with the ESTA application, whether you have dual nationality or not.

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