What is the ESTA?
ESTA, or the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is an automated service by the USA Customs and Border Protection, which determines the eligibility of potential visitors to the United States of America. It serves to check and review if the traveler can enter the country under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). This means that the ESTA is only meant for the countries that are on the list of countries whose citizens do not need a Visa to step onto USA soil. This measure of safety was introduced to strengthen travel security to the USA.
History and Details
The ESTA was first brought in by the Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act in the year 2007. Citizens who arrive in the USA by either sea or air from the VWP countries are required to have their own ESTA approved. It is worth noting that the Visa authorization through the ESTA system does not determine if a traveler can stay in the country because this is performed by the officers of the USA Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when a traveler arrives. ESTA system of applications only collects information about the traveler through the answers to VWP questions.
Starting in December of 2018, the ESTA application system notes that the applications must be submitted at least 72 hours before traveling. It can and should be done as soon as a traveler starts with the travel plans and preparations, even before buying the travel ticket for a plane or a vessel. Passengers without an ESTA will be denied to check-in and enter the States. Since 2010, the fee for an ESTA has been the US $14, as determined by the USA Customs and Border Protection. Individual and Group applications are available on the service.
To apply for an ESTA application (like https://applyforesta.com), one has to be a citizen or an eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country. Furthermore, the traveler cannot already own a visitor’s Visa. The total time of your stay must be 90 days or less, while the purpose of the trip needs to be pleasure or business.
Each applicant must have a valid Visa Waiver Program country passport, as well as a valid credit card or a PayPal account to be able to pay the $14 fee. Credit cards supported include the following: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover (JCB, Diners Club).
Lastly, contact and the most recent employment information of the applicant is needed.
Once you apply, there are three possible responses you can receive. The first is “Authorization Approved”, the second is “Travel Not Authorized”, and the last is “Authorization Pending”.
VWP Countries List
VWP countries whose citizens are eligible for the ESTA applications to include the following:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and United Kingdom.
Citizens of the remaining countries that are not on this list cannot apply for an ESTA application. They have to obtain a Visa at a USA embassy to be able to enter the United States of America. You can find more on this topic on this website.