Before you board the next plane to America, you need to do a pre-screening, which is known as ESTA. ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is an automated system determining the eligibility of the visitors, under VISA Waiver Program (VWP) to travel to the United States. This system is authorized by the Department of Homeland Security, Custom, and Border Protection.
So let’s check out how to apply for visa ESTA to the USA and what the things to look out for are.
Things that you must know:
- Only citizens of Visa Waiver countries can apply for ESTA.
- If you have a valid visa you need not apply for ESTA. It is only for travelers entering under the new VWP.
- The charge to register under ESTA is $14. If charged more, it may be that you have registered through a third-party website. Please check your registration status on the official US government site http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov to avoid unnecessary complications on arrival.
- If your ESTA application is denied, you need to apply for a VISA.
- If you have traveled to countries like Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen before March 1, 2011, you might not be eligible for ESTA.
- All travel authorization under ESTA is valid for 2 years. But if you have changed any of your details, or if there has been any change in the questionnaire, then you have to get a new authorization.
How to Apply for visa ESTA to the US?
Once you enter the system by choosing your country, you will have to fill in your personal details as you had entered in your passport. Next, comes filling up your Passport details. You are now asked to answer some mandatory questions related to illness, your criminal past, if any, and whether you have been earlier denied a US visa or not.
Information related to criminal activities include participation in terroristic activities, drug trafficking, espionage, misrepresentation of information to secure a US Visa, and so on. Finally, information on visiting certain countries before March 1, 2011, is asked. You must fill up all the fields that are mandatory, providing all information.
Once you complete filling up the online application, please review it thoroughly before submitting. The United States Government recommends you fill up the ESTA form 72 hours before traveling to the US. The whole process is quite fast, generally taking 5 seconds to get an approval after submission. But if your application is somehow rejected then you have to apply for a Visa in the US Consulate and that may take time. That is generally a lengthy process.