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What you need to know about ESTA?

What you need to know about ESTA

First things first, what is ESTA? In full, it stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is an automated system that establishes the eligibility of persons who wish to travel to the United States of America through the Visa Waiver Program. The system does a background check on the individuals to determine whether the travel poses a security risk or infringes on any law enforcement laws. However, it is essential to note that ESTA authorization does not guarantee the traveler’s admission to the United States. The Customs and Border Protection Officers are the ones to determine the admissibility of an individual into the country. It is advisable to interested parties to make their ESTA application in advance before they begin traveling preparation such as purchasing the plane ticket.

Here are some essential points to note when making your ESTA application:

1. ESTA is not a substitute for a VISA


Approval for ESTA means you can travel to the United States without a VISA for a stay of fewer than 90 days. It only means that you have passed the vetting process and you are allowed to visit the USA. Getting it is much faster. All you need to do is make your application, and if you pass, they notify you via email as compared to the VISA which takes weeks to process.

2. Period and purposes allowable


As mentioned above, the ESTA allows you to stay in the USA for a maximum of 90 days. You must highlight the goals of traveling. Traveling for tourism/leisure and business is allowable. By business, we mean attending meetings, conferences, and the like, not looking for a new job or assuming a job position for someone in the country.

3. Different responses to your ESTA application


With the ESTA program, everything is automated. Once you make your application, you receive either one of three reactions within 24 hours. The first one is “Authorization Approved,” which means you are cleared to travel to the USA. The second one is “Authorization Pending,” which means your ESTA application is going through a secondary vetting process, and they will get back to you within 72 hours. The last one is “Travel Not Authorized,” which means they denied the application.

4. What to do in case of a denied request


If they reject the ESTA, this does not block all your chances of traveling to the USA. You can still apply for the VISA. Of course, this will take a longer time, but it is always worth a shot if you have to travel there. Also, once your ESTA expires, you cannot renew it but you can re-apply for another one.

The ESTA is very efficient for persons who are going to the USA for a short period, for example, visit friends or on vacation. The entire procedure is carried out online and is entirely automated. All you need is internet access and voila! One critical detail not to forget is that every passenger must have their own ESTA authorization regardless of age. Of course, for a child, the application is made for them. The bottom line is that they have to have their pass separate from their parent or legal guardian.

This is a contribution from one of our contributing writers.


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