The Electronic System for Travel Authorization determines whether visitors are eligible to visit the U.S. under the (VWP) Visa Waiver Program and whether such travel threatens law enforcement or national security.
A traveller is permitted to travel to the U.S. under the VWP with ESTA approval. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recommends applying for ESTA at the time of booking travel but no later than 72 hours before boarding.
An ESTA is not a visa. It does not satisfy the legal requirements to substitute for a U.S. visa when one is required. Valid U.S. visa holders may travel to the United States for the purpose for which the visa was issued. Travellers with valid visas are exempt from the ESTA application requirement. Similarly to how a valid visa does not guarantee admission to the United States, neither does an approved ESTA.
Upon arrival in the United States, VWP applicants are required to complete a blue Customs declaration, regardless of whether they have an ESTA authorization. No longer required for VWP travellers is the green I-94W card.
Approved ESTA applications are valid for two years or until the expiration date of the traveller’s passport, whichever comes first, and multiple trips to the United States without the need to reapply for ESTA. When travelling to the United States with an approved ESTA, you are only permitted to stay for 90 days at a time. There should be a reasonable amount of time between visits so that the CBP Officer does not believe you are attempting to live here. There is no predetermined minimum amount of time between visits.
ESTA authorization must be renewed if:
- You are issued a new passport;
- Change your name (first and/or last);
- You change your gender;
- Change your country of citizenship;
- Your personal circumstances change, such as if you are convicted of a heinous crime or contract a contagious disease. Such a modification may necessitate a visa to enter the United States. You must reapply, and your application must reflect the change in your situation, or you may be denied entry to the United States upon arrival.
When making an ESTA application, you must supply the following information:
- Your full name and date of birth, together with your passport details.
- You must provide your travel dates, the address of your accommodation in the United States, and your contact information.
- Employment information includes the current employer’s name and address.
- Questions regarding your criminal, medical, and travel history are included.
You must apply for a non-immigrant U.S. visa if your ESTA application is denied.
Under the Visa Waiver Program, obtaining an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a mandatory prerequisite for entering the United States. By providing basic personal and travel information, an ESTA valid for two years or until the expiration of your passport can be obtained.