What is an ESTA and how should I apply for one?
18 January, 2018duguech
The ESTA (Electronic System Travel Authorization) is an electronic passport system that authorizes individuals to travel to the USA, after filling out an application form. It is specially designed for travelers from the countries indicated in the Visa Waiver Program.
The ESTA has no visa value. Its possession does not guarantee entry to the USA, so you must also have a valid US visa or suitable passport. Citizens who do not belong to the list of countries included in the Visa Waiver Program will have to apply for a visa.
When you fill out the ESTA application form, an electronic system will assess the answers given and accept or deny the request. The system is programmed to give an almost immediate response. You are recommended to apply for the ESTA 72 hours before your scheduled trip to the USA. In addition, travelers who have this electronic authorization must arrange their trip with any of the private airlines that accept customers who have it.
The ESTA is valid for two years, and can be used as many times as needed during that period (provided that the traveler’s passport is in force). It is not necessary, therefore, to request it whenever you want to travel to the USA during that period. Upon arrival in the USA, the ESTA holder must complete a blue customs declaration form. The holder of this authorization may only reside in American territory for 90 consecutive days.
To apply for an ESTA, you will need the following documents:
- Valid passport of a country of the Visa Waiver Program
- A valid credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover) or a Paypal account, to pay the application fees (14 dollars)
- Information and contact addresses of the applicant
- Information about the last work performed
- An application questionnaire, completed in a coherent and sincere manner.
You will then need to pay two fees:
- Processing fee: all ESTA applicants are taxed to the amount of 4 dollars.
- Authorization fee: this must be paid once the application has been approved and the authorization to travel to the USA is issued. The cost is 10 dollars in addition to the previous cost.
On the official ESTA application page, you can make individual or group applications, and if duly authorized can apply on behalf of third parties such as work colleagues.
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