In order to travel to the United States, Visa Waiver Program (Visa Waiver Program) nationals must be in possession of an ESTA certificate. This measure was put in place to ensure the safety of travelers, but also US citizens. Without the ESTA card, you may not be allowed to take a flight or board a ship for the United States of America.
What is the difference between the ESTA card and the visa?
Before leaving for the United States, it is important to separate the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) form from the USA visa. Indeed, these two travel authorizations have different objectives and are not addressed to the same travelers .
In concrete terms, the ESTA form can be used for:
- a tourist stay on the American territory (roadtrip, autotour, camping, etc.);
- a business trip;
- transit on American soil.
The ESTA document is strictly for short stays, if your trip to the US exceeds 90 consecutive days, it will not be possible to leave the US without a visa .
Obtaining ESTA is easier than the US visa. To make the request, a computer is enough for you, everything is done at a distance. On the contrary, in order to obtain a visa, it is necessary to travel physically to the US embassy or consulate.
In addition, ESTA authorization is much faster to obtain. You have up to 72 hours before boarding to apply for your electronic authorization, unlike a visa that requires several weeks of waiting.
Although both travel authorizations are paid for, ESTA is more accessible than the US visa. Indeed, the base price of an ESTA application is about $ 14 against $ 160 against a tourist visa.
Be careful, before ordering an ESTA or a visa, make sure you have a valid passport. If the one has expired at the time of your departure, you will be denied boarding access. To avoid this kind of disappointment, it is advisable to renew your identity document with your town hall. Finally, be aware that the US Customs and Border Protection Service only tolerates two types of passports: the biometric passport and the ePassport.
How to get the ESTA plug?
The ESTA card is available on the official website of the US government. If you want to benefit from support in this process, there are many specialized private sites where you can also apply for a temporary residence permit.
To receive your authorization, it is imperative to complete the ESTA form. This online questionnaire is relatively simple, but be careful not to take this step too lightly. Indeed, many candidates are denied ESTA because of a simple mistake, especially when copying the passport number.
At the end of the ESTA online form, be sure to read back the requested information before paying the ESTA application fee.
The answers to the questions asked in the questionnaire will determine whether you are eligible for the visa waiver program. To check the status of your authorization request, have your ESTA file number provided when you send the form. Whether it is an approval or a refusal, a decision will be made systematically within 72 hours. However, it is common to receive authorization almost immediately.
What to do with your ESTA USA authorization?
When you are in possession of the ESTA document, you are allowed to travel to the US, by air or sea, for up to 90 days.
Travel authorization to the USA is valid from the first day of validity and for two years thereafter, unless the passport expires before that date. You do not need to print the ESTA authorization, everything is done electronically. When boarding, a simple scan of your passport will be enough for the controllers to verify that you benefit from the ESTA.
If you wish to travel to the US again but your travel document is coming to an end, simply make a new online application and pay ESTA’s fees. If your situation has not changed, you will most likely receive your new ESTA authorization.
Cases of refusal of ESTA are relatively rare, if it is not a typo or an oversight, it means that you do not meet the eligibility criteria imposed by the US authorities. Your stay in the USA will then require you to apply for a visa. To do this, contact the consular services or the US embassy directly.