When to apply for ESTA?

When to apply for ESTA?

Unlike the American visa, the ESTA USA offers much more flexibility to organize your stay in the United States, since it only requires a few days, even a few hours, to obtain it. But how do you know if an ESTA authorization is sufficient for your trip to the USA? This article will help you understand in which cases you can apply for ESTA and in which circumstances it is not possible.

The ESTA application: what for?

The ESTA authorization is an alternative to the American visa reserved for citizens of the 38 member countries of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program). Without a travel authorization, your admission to American territory will be refused. But be careful, even if your nationality allows you to be exempted from a visa, this in no way guarantees that you can benefit from this authorization to travel to the USA . Indeed, in order to guarantee optimal internal security, other eligibility criteria have been defined by the American authorities. The ESTA request can only be made for a short stay in the USA (90 days maximum). In addition, this electronic document can only be used for three categories of stays: tourist travel, business travel and transit. Finally, the use of the ESTA is only allowed for two modes of arrival on American soil: by air or by sea.

The ESTA has many advantages over the US visa. On the one hand, thanks to its simplified application procedure (online form), on the other hand thanks to its speed of delivery ( 72 hours maximum ). When applying for a visa, you must physically travel to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General. Thanks to the temporary residence permit, the procedure for requesting authorization is much simpler: all you have to do is fill out an online form.

I do not respect the rules imposed to apply for an ESTA: what should I do?

In case of non-compliance with one of the rules required by the visa waiver program, you will need to show a little more organization. Indeed, the request for a USA visa requires several weeks, and sometimes several months of waiting. In addition, the consular authorities will certainly ask you to provide certain supporting documents in order to prove the veracity of your project.

Know that there is not a single visa, but several dozen variants. Here are some examples of visas that may apply to your trip to the United States of America:

  • B-2 for tourism or medical travel;
  • B-1 for a business trip;
  • D-1 to do an internship in the USA;
  • F-1 to study.

Where and how to apply for an ESTA authorization?

As said before, the ESTA application is only done online. You can do this procedure on the official website of the US government or on some private sites. The next step is the same regardless of the site selected: you must complete the ESTA form.

Please note that since you will need to enter several pieces of information related to your identity document (electronic or biometric passport number, date of issue, expiry date, etc.), it is essential to have a valid passport . If this is not the case, you will have to apply for a biometric passport via the citizenship service of your town hall.

You will find on the ESTA form, a section composed of nine closed questions. This questionnaire allows the American authorities to assess the level of dangerousness of the traveller. The questions relate to various subjects, such as your criminal history, your health, or even your previous travels. Concretely, if you answer yes to one of these questions, it means that you represent a risk for the internal security of the country (example: you are suffering from a serious communicable disease). Unfortunately for you, in this case, you will not be eligible for ESTA. You are free to validate your ESTA form and pay the application fees, but be aware that you will probably receive a dismissal from US Customs and Border Protection. United States).

If you answered no to the entire questionnaire and meet all the eligibility criteria, your online ESTA application will, logically, be accepted. You can then use this travel document for two years and go to the United States as many times as you wish, as long as the legal duration of stay is respected.