How to get an ESTA?

How to get an ESTA?

Any trip to the USA cannot be done without having a valid passport and a travel authorization. In the vast majority of cases, foreign nationals must apply for an ESTA . This travel document concerns short-term stays in the United States. If you are a French national and plan to go to the USA for less than three consecutive months, you can apply for an ESTA instead of a visa. But how to obtain this travel authorization? In this article, let’s review the process for obtaining this electronic document.

Check the criteria required to obtain an ESTA USA

Before applying for a temporary residence permit, you must first ensure that you meet all the criteria imposed by the American authorities to obtain your ESTA and travel to the USA without a visa.

Citizenship of the traveler

The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) was created to enhance the security of the Visa Waiver Program. Currently, 38 states are on the list of member countries of this US visa waiver program. Among them are France, Belgium and all EU countries. If you have a French passport, you are therefore eligible for ESTA.

Length of stay in the USA

The ESTA is a non-immigrant travel document, that is to say that it does not allow you to settle permanently on American territory, only the green card (green card) authorizes this condition. The ESTA authorization allows you to stay in the USA for a maximum of 90 days. If the duration of your trip is greater than this threshold, ESTA is not applicable. It is a USA visa that you need to obtain.

The reason for the trip to the United States of America

The VWP (Visa Waiver Program) provides for three situations in which an ESTA is a necessity: tourist stay, business trip and transit. If it is for another reason, the visa exemption will not be possible. It will then be necessary to contact the embassy of the United States or the consulate general in order to apply for a visa.

The mode of entry on American soil

ESTA can only be used for two types of entry into the USA. On the one hand, by air, and on the other hand, by sea. Consequently, if you arrive from Canada or Mexico by land, obtaining an ESTA is not mandatory, another form will be requested by the customs services (the l-94W form).

Obtain an ESTA: apply online

The procedure for obtaining an ESTA is simple, but still requires a certain rigor. In the event of an error in the fields provided, your application may be rejected, so this step should not be taken lightly.

To obtain an ESTA, you must first consult the official US government site or a private site managing the issuance of ESTA. The next step is to complete the online form.

Filling in the ESTA form

The ESTA form was issued by United States Customs and Border Protection. Its main purpose is to verify that each traveler wishing to stay in the USA does not represent a threat to the internal security of the country. For this, in addition to the classic information on civil status and on the biometric or electronic passport, it is necessary to briefly answer a security questionnaire. You will then be asked nine questions, in particular in relation to your legal past or your state of health.

These are not trick questions, but keep in mind that answering no to any of these questions will result in your ESTA authorization request being refused immediately. We do not advise you to lie, however, because your file will be examined by US Customs and Border Protection computers, which rely on a very rich database, so they are able to spot a lie. In addition to a rejection of the application, this could lead to permanent exclusion from the Visa Waiver Program, in other words, you will no longer be able to visit the United States with an ESTA.

Online payment

Paying the ESTA application fee is essential for your application to be transmitted to the US government. For this formality, it is simply asked to bring a bank card or to pay via a Paypal account. When the payment is made, you just have to wait a maximum of 72 hours to be fixed on the final decision taken with regard to your ESTA request.

The use of the ESTA document

Do you meet the prerequisites mentioned above and have a valid passport? Your ESTA file should be very accepted by the American authorities. If so, you are then free to go to the USA without a visa, as many times as you want for two years. Note that if your passport expires during this same period, the validity period of your ESTA will be shortened. You will then have to apply for a biometric passport and reapply online to obtain a new ESTA.