All About The ESTA Visa
ESTA stands for the name given to the automated data system launched by the Department of Homeland Security in 2008 and is now being used to regulate the entry of visitors in America, determining whether they are eligible and do not threaten law enforcement nor security under the Visa Waiver Program.
The Visa Waiver Program will be your ticket to the land of the free – that is, if you get approved. You need not worry about submitting an application as early as possible, as it is recommended by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that one must submit the application 72 hours prior to your planned U.S. trip, but you can do so any time before boarding as a response is sent back to you usually within seconds of your submission. Private carriers must be a signatory VWP carrier and you can click here for more on this aspect.
Contrary to common misconceptions, ESTA is not the same as a visa. It does not meet the legal protocol to actually serve as your visa in place of a U.S. visa whenever it is required. Travelers that actually are in possession of a visa need not avail of an ESTA as they can use their visa for the very reason that it was granted to them. Neither of them come easily nor get approved easily and so does entry to the United States, as approval of an ESTA or a visa will not render you immediate access to the United States
ESTA is mandatory and it has become such since the twelfth of January 2009. It is a requirement for all applicants of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to fill up the blue Customs declaration form the moment they arrive in the United States regardless of being authorized or not by ESTA, but are not anymore required to fill up that I-94W green card.
Once approved, ESTS applications will remain valid for a duration of two whole years or until the passport expires, whichever comes first, and allow the holder multiple trips to the United States without the need for re-application for another ESTA.
Although there is no set time requirement for how long you must wait before you can visit the country again, you need to leave a considerable amount of time between each trip so as not to alert the CBP Officer and make an impression that you are trying to live in the United States, and also remember that you may only stay for a maximum of 90 days with each trip so make it worth your while!
If your ESTA application already gets approved, yet you are worried about the fact that your passport will expire in under two years, you will still get an ESTA but only one that will be valid until the passport’s expiration date.
If you still have further concerns not addressed in this article, view here for more information.