Since the entry into force of the new travel authorization known as ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), citizens of countries belonging to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are required to comply with this formality to enter the United States of America. The criteria for obtaining this authorization are identical for all citizens of these countries.
Are France and Belgium members of the VWP?
The US administration has introduced the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen the country’s internal security and to avoid any further terrorist attacks like those of 11 September 2001 . The purpose of this device is to know precisely the profile of all candidates for entry into the US, via an online form. In addition to the security reasons, the US State has put in place this device to simplify the formalities of application for travel authorization. The visa exemption thus allows to unclog embassies and consulates since requests for ESTA are only made online.
The Visa Waiver Program allows certain foreign nationals to go to the US for a tourist or business trip of up to 90 days without applying for a visa. This program applies specifically to citizens of 38 nationalities.
Here is the exact list of member countries of this system: 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, Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom.
French and Belgian nationals can therefore benefit from ESTA, but beware, nationality is not the only condition of eligibility for ESTA authorization. As a security measure, the US authorities impose other criteria for traveling without a USA visa.
Thus, before applying online, it is imperative to ensure that you have a biometric or electronic passport. In addition, it must be valid at the time of departure for the country of Uncle Sam.
In addition, be aware that the temporary residence permit only concerns entries to the US by air or sea.
How to apply for an ESTA?
First, it should be noted that regardless of the traveler’s nationality, the ESTA form will be strictly the same and will require the same information. To obtain this questionnaire online, there are two possibilities:
- make the request on the official website of the US government;
- launch a request on a private site specialized in ESTA.
When filling out the form , get your electronic or biometric passport. You will need it to communicate certain elements such as the expiry date, the country of issue or the passport number. In addition to informing your marital status, various questions will be asked. These last relate to your previous places of travel or your moral conduct.
Your answers will then be analyzed via the US Customs and Border Protection computer system. It is advisable to answer these questions as honestly as possible. If a lie appears, computers from the US Immigration Agency may spot it immediately. Indeed, they synchronize information with a highly enriched electronic database.
Whatever the method of obtaining the electronic authorization, the ESTA application is always paid. The base price of this travel document in the United States is about € 12, due to the handling fees. If the request is made via a private platform, it will take a few tens of euros more, as individual assistance.
ESTA permission denied: what to do?
If the United States Customs and Border Protection considers you to be ineligible, your application will be rejected. This decision does not necessarily mean that you can not go to the USA. Nevertheless, you will not be eligible for the US visa exemption. For your project does not fall into the water, you will need to go to the US Embassy to apply for a USA visa . Note that this request will involve longer and more expensive formalities.