Before you complete the ESTA form, you need to know if you are a member of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) for the USA. In addition to nationality, be aware that not all passports are eligible for the ESTA travel document.
Which nationalities are eligible for ESTA?
Travelers wishing to travel to the United States of America on a business trip, tourist trip or transit for less than three months must apply for an ESTA. However, this visa waiver is reserved for nationals of VWP member countries. ESTA applies specifically to citizens of 38 countries, the majority of which are European Union States. If the country of issue of the passport, is not part of this device, the traveler will not be able to benefit from the authorization ESTA and will have to make a request for American visa with the consular services.
Visa applications from citizens of the following countries (North Korea, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen) are impossible. French nationals with dual nationality (and therefore a French passport) are no longer affected by this measure since 2017. However, they will not be able to benefit from the ESTA authorization and will have to be in possession of a USA visa. If you are concerned by this situation, you are invited to contact the US Consulate.
Biometric passport, electronic or optical reading: what are the differences?
Before applying for ESTA , it is essential to know which passport you are in possession of. For this, it is necessary to distinguish between all existing French passports. At present, there are three.
The biometric passport
This passport is the most recent, its circulation began in 2008. It is a passport secured by an electronic chip that includes all the characteristic elements of its owner. To make sure your passport is biometric, just look at the front cover. If the word passport is underlined, it is a biometric passport. In addition, be aware that any passport issued after June 28, 2009 must be biometric.
The electronic passport
The ePassport is also secure. Like the biometric passport, it has a digital chip that contains the owner’s biometric information. The latter is the predecessor of the biometric passport, its last release was in June 2009.
The passport with optical reading
The optical reading passport called “Delphine” is a passport of old generation set up in 2001 and whose delivery stopped in 2006. If you still have this passport, know that it is no longer valid. Indeed, the validity of a passport is ten years for adults and five years for minors.
Specifics of Passports Required During an ESTA Online Application
There are rules to be followed on the passports of some countries benefiting from the Visa Waiver Program. Emergency passports are excluded from this device, if you have a passport of this type, it will be impossible for you to go to the USA enjoying the ESTA. In addition, these passports are not secure, we advise you to apply, as soon as possible, a new passport from your city.
In addition, the US authorities require travelers wishing to go to the US, to have a biometric or electronic passport, the optical reading passports being considered obsolete. Also check that you have a valid passport, just check the expiry date of the ID.
If it turns out that your passport has already expired, no need to apply for ESTA, you will receive a categorical refusal from the United States Customs and Border Protection. To travel in the United States of America, the only solution will be to renew your passport.
If your passport expires during the validity period of the ESTA form, it will no longer be usable. Again, you will need to order a new piece of ID and then apply for a new ESTA authorization online request.