Definition and purpose of the ESTA form

The Visa Waiver Program, also known as the Visa Waiver Program, is made up of 38 member countries. This form is an electronic authorization system to cross the US border without a visa. Its main purpose is to know in advance the identity of all travelers to the USA. It is a way to strengthen US domestic security while facilitating administrative procedures to return to US soil.

The eligibility conditions and the use of the ESTA form

The ESTA form is not intended to replace the US visa, the conditions of access to these two documents are completely different.

The length of stay in the US is a key element in determining whether to choose between ESTA or visa . If you plan to visit the United States of America within 90 consecutive days, you will likely be able to apply for ESTA. However, this is not the only criterion to take into account, it is also necessary that the trip to the US has a tourist purpose, professional (business trips) or even due to transit.

Access to the ESTA form is limited to certain nationalities. To be able to travel to the United States with a temporary travel authorization, the national must be a national of one of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) member countries. The list of countries adhering to this system includes all the countries of the European Union, as well as Japan or New Zealand. If you are therefore a French national and you plan to organize a short tourist trip to the US, you will not need to apply for a USA visa.

The validity period of the ESTA document is 2 years maximum. However, this also depends on the validity of your passport. If your biometric or electronic passport expires before the end date of the ESTA, you will no longer be able to use your travel authorization. The only solution will be to proceed with a passport renewal at first, then to make a new request online.

Thanks to the document ESTA, you can make multiple trips on the American territory. However, make sure that each stay in the United States is less than 90 days.

Finally, be aware that US authorities issue ESTA only to travelers entering the US by air or sea.

Is the ESTA USA application free or paying?

The US government has put this system online to facilitate the travel of nationals of countries under the Visa Waiver Program while ensuring the security of its territory. The ESTA authorization was therefore free so that travelers could adapt to this new procedure.

However, as of September 8, 2010, she became a paying agent. Applicants must pay an amount that covers administrative costs plus a tourist tax. If you apply for ESTA via a private site, you will have to pay additional fees for the assistance provided throughout the process.

However, the ESTA form remains more economical than the US visa. Indeed, to ask the latter, it will cost you at least $ 160.

Where to ask for your ESTA form?

Several sites are available to obtain this form online . Two options are available to you:

  • make your request on the official website of the US government;
  • make a request on a specialized private site, this kind of platform generally offers you a personalized support.

Whatever your choice, the content of the online questionnaire will be the same. You will be systematically asked for information on: your marital status, the reason for the trip to the United States, your state of health, your judicial past, etc.

What to do if the ESTA application is rejected?

Cases of refusal are relatively rare, if this happens, first check that it is not an error on the information provided (name, passport number, etc.). If indeed it is a typo or an oversight, it is possible to make a new request.

The refusal can also be explained by a non-respect of one of the eligibility conditions. This may be the case if you plan to look for work in the US or if you want to do an internship in the USA. In this case, you will need to apply for a visa from the consular authorities or the US Embassy.