Until 2009, nationals wishing to travel to the United States had to travel to the US Embassy to apply for a visa. Thanks to ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), it is now possible to get rid of this long procedure, an online application is enough to go to the USA. To access an ESTA Travel Authorization, you must be a citizen of one of the countries that have benefited from the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA allows these nationals to enter the US without a visa.
Why apply for ESTA instead of visa?
The ESTA form is intended for nationals of all countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program. All citizens of the European Union are eligible for this scheme, so French nationals can travel without a visa in the United States.
However, nationality is not the only eligibility criterion for the VWP. The ESTA application is only for travelers who wish to stay in the USA for up to 90 days. The reason for the stay is also very framed. Thus, the US administration delivers the ESTA only for these three situations:
- tourist stay;
- business trip;
Any external reason (internship in the USA, job search, training, etc.) requires applying for a visa at the Embassy of the United States of America.
Finally, the ESTA application is limited to entries into the United States by air or sea. Nationals choosing to go to the US by land are subject to another formality.
ESTA’s formal request formality has a dual purpose. On the one hand, strengthening domestic security by maintaining strict control of entrances on US soil and on the other hand, relieve consular services and embassies in order to make travel arrangements in the United States simpler.
How and where to apply ESTA official?
The ESTA form is a document to fill out online. It is only after the submission of your request that an authorization can reach you. To complete your application, you simply need to fill out an online form . The latter can be found on the official website of the US government or on any private site specializing in ESTA authorization.
The purpose of this form is to allow the US authorities to know exactly the identity of each traveler who plans to stay on US soil, but also to know what are his motives. If the US Customs and Border Protection believes that you represent a threat to the US state, either because of your legal history or because of your health, it may simply refuse you issue the ESTA authorization.
To validate your application, you must pay a fee for ESTA’s processing fees. To pay this amount, it is simply requested to have a credit card (Visa, American Express, Master Card …).
Before applying online, make sure you have a biometric or electronic passport. Indeed, if you have a passport reading optical, know that it is not compatible with the authorization of temporary residence. In this case, you will need to apply for a new passport from your town hall. In addition, make sure you have a valid passport. If it expires before you leave, your boarding access will most likely be denied.
When you officially have ESTA authorization, you can travel as many times as you want for 24 months. Please note that this period of validity can be shortened if your expiry date is before this deadline. If the number of stays is unlimited, the duration of the trip is strictly regulated. If you stay more than 90 days in the US simply with an ESTA, the US government is entitled to permanently deny you access to this document for future trips.
If your ESTA expires and you schedule a new vacation in the US, you can complete a ESTA renewal. This procedure will be exactly similar to your first request. In addition, be aware that like any order from ESTA, this new request incurs costs. It will therefore be necessary to pay the amount usually provided for this procedure.