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You are here: Home Focus Do you want to travel to the US? You'll need ESTA

Do you want to travel to the US? You'll need ESTA

What is ESTA?

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation and is a system which was created to show if people are eligible to travel to the US. However, it will not guarantee you you're entering the country. This is a decision to make for the Border Protection officers.

Do you really need it?

Actually, yes. Especially if you're a part of the countries which are in the Visa Waiver Program. The program was made to enable access for 90 days in the country without a visa. The form needs to be approved before you're leaving. Also, don't forget to check your ESTA status, just in case.

Where did this idea come from?

After what happened on the 11th of September, 2001, The US Department of Homeland Security decided to introduce the ESTA system to help keep away stop undesirable citizens.

In present, US lets about 50 million people a year to enter the country. But keep in mind that ESTA doesn't want to restrict commerce or tourism – it only wants to keep away people who are considered a security risk for the US.

How can I apply?

You will fill out a form online, form which you'll get from the official ESTA site. You need to fill out questions regarding your background, work and passport information.

There are 3 responses which you can get.

Authorisation approved, which means that you're allowed to travel to the US, Travel Not Authorised, which means you are not cleared to travel to the US and you'll need to request a visa from the US Embassy or Consulate, Authorisation Pending, which means that they need more time before deciding to give you clearance.

How long is it going to take before they approve my application?

For most of the people, it usually doesn't take long to get approved – about 4 seconds. Nice, considering it's then queried against the US law enforcement databases after you've submitted it.

For how long is the application valid?

The application is valid for 2 years, less if your passport expires in the meantime. With this application, you can enter the US in 90 days for as much as you want. If you get a new passport, you'll need to apply again for the ESTA approval.

So when should I do it?

It's true, the application can get approved in seconds, but that doesn't mean it has to be the last thing on your list. You should apply at least 72 hours before you leave.

Just to be sure, apply as soon as you have your dates in order. You don't want to have your application be denied, and no time left to apply for a visa, which usually takes about six weeks. Do it before you pay for the trip.

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