American ESTA

What is it and why do I need one?

American ESTA

As of 2009, citizens of countries which are listed under the Visa Waiver Program (VMP) are able to get a ESTA in order to travel to or via the United States. A ESTA gives you the permission to go to the US for either leisure or business purposes should your application be accepted. A ESTA acts as an alternative to a non-immigrant visa. 

Application Process of a ESTA

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. It is currently available to citizens of 38 countries which can be found at the following link .

To be eligible for a ESTA you will need to meet the criteria of the following requirements:

  • You have a valid passport
  • You are a citizen of a VWP country
  • You are traveling for less than 90 days
  • You have no criminal charges or contagious diseases, such as HIV and tuberculosis 
  • You are going to the US for business or travel reasons
  • You have sufficient funds to cover your travels during your time in the country 

Canadian citizens as well as citizens of the British Overseas Territories of Bermuda are not required to have a ESTA in order to travel to the US as they are visa exempt. The same also goes for those who are citizens of other VWP countries travelling by land to the US. Although it does not guarantee entry into the country, the ESTA determines the eligibility of travelers and authorizes them to board a plane to the US. Dealing with US customs on arrival is made much easier with an approved ESTA. 

To secure a ESTA you will be required to fill in an online application which is both easy and quick to complete. Details which you can expect to supply for the application will be information such as your passport number, citizenship, immediate family, work and contact details. To apply, there is no need to go to the US Embassy or Consulate: you can apply online on the government website . The application will take up to 72 hours to be reviewed, or you can apply online and have your USA ESTA visa in 15 minutes with E-visum.  It is important that you are aware that there are many sites which claim that they can issue a legitimate ESTA, such companies can be misleading so it is recommended that you use reliable websites to obtain one. 

How long is ESTA approval valid for?

Once your application has been approved, your ESTA will be valid for two years, unless your passport expires before that time. With it, you can travel to the US for up to 90 days at a time on as many trips as you wish during the two year validity. Although there is no specific rule about the amount of time that should pass between trips to the US, keep in mind that the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer is the one who ultimately decides whether to grant you access into the country.

The role of CBP is to prevent people from living in the US who falsely claim to live in their home country by, say, going back only once every 90 days. For this reason, it is advisable to spend at least the same amount of time as your last trip to the US in your home country before re-entering to avoid seeming a suspect US immigrant. If you change your name, gender, residency or citizenship, you will have to apply for a new ESTA.


Further reading

Does this article help?

Do you have any comments, updates or questions on this topic? Ask them here: