For many years, people have travelled to United States without Visa for different countries. This has made travelling by air, pretty easy for many, as they did not have to follow the procedure of answering long list of questionnaires that was mandatory in many other countries. Ever since the Visa Waver Program was introduced in 1998, people have visited America to stay at least for ninety days in this country. Whether it was for business purpose, tourism, visiting relatives, education or employment each stream was an opportunity for people to visit the States.
It was around 2007, that more than fifteen million visitors entered United States. Due to unexpected rise in population, an Act was amended on January 12, 2009. This was United States’ new ESTA which is an Electronic System required for Travel Authorization. This required all VWP visitors to register themselves online prior entering the country through air or sea. This process is mandatory for foreigners, to prevent any kind of security threat or risk to the country.
Even if you’re approved an ESTA, there is no surety that you will be allowed to enter the country after reaching the airport. ESTA gives no such guarantee. It is the airport officials who will make the final call of approving the traveler to enter US. ESTA online USA form is just an authorization before travelling. It is not a visa and does not meet any legal requirements. Furthermore, you need not attend any interview while applying for ESTA.
Here are some of the requirements that should be fulfilled before undergoing this process –
- You should be a citizen of the state that benefits from VWP.
- Your stay shouldn’t be long but, it should be only for business purpose or tourism. You should exit the country within 90 days of your trip.
- Your travelling should be through a ship or an airline which is approved by US government.
- You should carry a valid passport.
- Before travelling you should have permission from ESTA.
Here are the major countries that have the privilege of VWP –
- Republic of Malta
- New Zealand
- San Marino
- South Korea
- Czech Republic
These countries provide e-passport to travelers. When these passports are carried by travelers they are scanned through a device. Thus, this document should contain a digitalized photograph, the date and place of issue with an electronic chip that contains all details. If you carry a non electronic passport then you cannot travel to US.
To make life convenient for travelers the government has also declared that the ESTA form can be filled up 72 hours before the travel. The procedure is instant and the approval comes to your valid email id. There are no charges involved and an approved ESTA is applicable for 2 years from the date of approval.