If you wish to travel to the United States, you should know that some countries allow their nationals to travel to the United States without a visa application. This does not mean that you can stay in the United States without seeking authorization, but that a substitute for the USA visa exists, which is faster to obtain. Before leaving for a tourist trip or a linguistic stay, don’t forget your ESTA application! To obtain it and fly to Manhattan or Florida, you will need to fill out an easily accessible form on the Internet. There are criteria that must be met, including possession of airline (or boat) tickets that prove you are traveling for a maximum of 90 days. As you may have understood, a single ticket will not satisfy the U.S. government and you will be refused: you must have a round trip ticket for any stay in the United States.
A round trip ticket required for ESTA authorization, but not only
The American visa is often required for a trip to the USA. However, this is not a universal requirement, thanks for example to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) set up by the American authorities. This system simplifies the process for citizens of 40 countries who just need to fill out an ESTA form in order to enter the United States. Please note: the online application is simple but does not guarantee a positive government response.
Several cumulative conditions must be met:
- Purpose of the trip to the United States: tourism, transit or business
- Duration of the trip: 90 consecutive days maximum
- Have a biometric or electronic passport that is valid for the entire duration of your stay (otherwise, apply for a new passport)
- Have a return or onward ticket, proving that you are not staying more than 90 days in the USA.
When your project concerns a business creation, a job, a semester of studies or an immigration, it is better not to waste time to make an ESTA application. You cannot embark and achieve this type of goal without a B2 tourist visa. For example, ask about the green card.
If, on the other hand, you meet the above conditions, you can now fill out the online form with your French passport. The U.S. government’s response is given within 72 hours, but this time frame is usually much shorter. Even if it is possible to leave for the USA at the last moment thanks to this reactivity, we advise you to anticipate the procedure. Indeed, it happens that your file is randomly drawn by the authorities for a routine check and that it is put on hold (the ESTA is delivered via electronic systems which are not infallible).
With your round-trip ticket and valid passport in hand, the ESTA is almost yours!
The likelihood of an ESTA application being denied is minimal, almost zero. In addition to not meeting the above criteria, certain answers given in the online questionnaire result in a rejection to travel to the United States, for example if homeland security is considered to be at risk.
If you are not planning to organize an attack in New York or are not a citizen of one of the countries affected by a ban, you can rest easy by filling out the form on the government website or a private website. A short expatriation to visit the Grand Canyon or the beaches of Miami is usually not a problem.
So don’t wait any longer to buy your round-trip tickets and apply for authorization. Be sure to review your information (last name, passport number, maiden name, etc.); any errors will require a new application (only the email and final destination addresses in the U.S. can be changed after the ESTA order is submitted).
Do not hesitate to go to the U.S. consulate or embassy to obtain more information (companies and airlines to use, expiration of the electronic passport, leaving the U.S. territory during a stay with the ESTA…).
Enjoy your trip to New York or the American West!