Why have an ESTA?

Why have an ESTA?

Any trip outside the European Union requires a valid passport. However, this document is not sufficient, you must also apply for a residence permit. In most cases, this travel authorization takes the form of a visa. However, we will see in this article that it is possible to travel to the United States without a visa, only by having an electronic authorization, called ESTA.

Why have an ESTA?

The ESTA USA is a temporary residence permit, introduced in 2009 as part of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program). It is aimed at nationals belonging to the 38 member countries of this visa waiver program. Note that all EU citizens are affected by this device.

In concrete terms, the ESTA authorization allows you to stay on American territory for a maximum of 90 days. As soon as the duration of the trip to the United States of America exceeds this limit, even if only for one day, it becomes mandatory to apply for a US visa.

In addition to the length of stay in the USA, the reason for the trip is extremely important in determining whether you are eligible for the visa waiver. The American authorities have provided for three scenarios for which it is requested to apply for an ESTA , here they are:

  • tourist travel (road trip in the American West, visit to New York , camping in national parks, etc.);
  • business trip ;
  • transit to another country.

Applying for an ESTA: the advantages over the visa

Applying for ESTA has many advantages over applying for a USA visa. The first difference is the cost of the document.

The price of ESTA

Although the ESTA is paying, its cost is much lower than that of the visa. Indeed, the basic price of an ESTA is $14, for administrative costs. This price may be slightly higher if you go through a private site, in order to benefit from assistance. The cost of a visa is much higher. Its price may vary depending on the type of visa ordered, but the main visas (B, C-1, D, F, etc.) require a total sum of $160.

In addition to the economic advantage, obtaining the ESTA United States turns out to be much simpler and faster than for a visa.

The flexibility offered by ESTA

If you are a fan of last-minute bookings, ESTA is perfect for you! Indeed, unlike the visa, which requires you to apply several weeks or even months in advance, the request for an ESTA can be made no later than 72 hours before boarding, which offers much more flexibility in terms of ‘organization.

In addition, unlike the visa which requires you to go to the American embassy or consulate general, the entire ESTA application process is done remotely, a computer and an internet connection are enough!

How to get an ESTA?

To obtain this travel document in the USA, two methods are possible: make a request on the official website of the US government or make a request via a private service provider. In all cases, no supporting document is required, it is simply required to complete an online form.

The ESTA form

To complete this form, it is important to bring your biometric passport or electronic passport. Indeed, in addition to the general identity information, you will have to communicate certain information appearing on your passport (passport number, date of issue and country of issue).

To complete this formality, you will also have to answer a series of 9 closed questions. The latter are simply intended to verify that you do not represent a danger to the internal security of the country. As such, you will be asked if you are subject to a serious communicable disease, if you have a criminal record or if you have recently stayed in one of the Muslim Ban countries (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria , Yemen).

ESTA request made, what next?

If you completed the online form correctly and answered “no” to the 9 questions, obtaining your authorization to stay in the United States should not be a problem. It is also common for your ESTA file to be accepted within minutes of sending your request. In all cases, a final decision is made within 72 hours.

If ESTA is granted to you, you are then authorized to stay temporarily on American soil without a visa. Attention, although the validity period of the ESTA is two years, it is possible that the authorization expires if your passport expires during this period. In this case, if you want to go to the USA again, you must first renew your passport, then submit a new online request for ESTA.