Why apply for ESTA for the USA?

Since January 2009, an ESTA application is mandatory for travelers who plan to visit the United States for less than 90 days. However, theofficial ESTA is not available to everyone, as it requires several conditions to be met in order to obtain it.

In this article, we will discuss the different reasons and the need for a travel authorization.

What is the travel authorization application?

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has implemented the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to screen applications for entry into the U.S. and to enhance security measures. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has been signed by 40 countries and allows nationals of VWP member countries to travel to the USA through the ESTA application. See our page with the list of VWP countries.

By completing the ESTA application, U.S. authorities will be able to identify high-risk travelers more easily, based on the identity information provided by the applicant. To be sure to obtain the ESTA application, you must ensure that you meet all the required criteria.

Thanks to the online form, the official ESTA can be requested quickly (unlike the American visa). To apply online, you can go to the U.S. government website or to the private website of our service partner.

Please note: don’t leave it to the last minute, even if the ESTA is obtained for 99% of applicants, it may take longer to obtain it from the American authorities.

Do I need to apply for ESTA?

We have mentioned the first criterion: to be a national of one of the countries concerned by the VWP.

However, this is far from being the only requirement for ESTA authorization. To put all the chances on your side, here are the different points to respect.

Travel for one of these 3 reasons

  • Tourist : you wish to make a tourist stay in the United States for a road trip, a trip to New York or another reason of travel;
  • Transit: you pass through the USA just for the time of a stopover;
  • Professional: training, meetings, etc. The business reason must not be commercial. If you want to start a business, you will need to apply for a USA visa.

Leave for 90 days (or less)

An ESTA application is authorized for a short stay of up to 90 days (3 months). The ESTA is valid for 2 years, but you cannot travel for more than 90 consecutive days.

Have your documents up to date

Biometric or electronic passport

The electronic or biometric passport is probably the most important document for your application for authorization to travel to the United States. It will be used to fill out your ESTA form, but it will also be directly linked to your ESTA form thanks to the number of the valid passport.

To summarize, the authorities require a biometric or electronic passport in order to digitally link (with their electronic systems) your ESTA and your passport. Therefore, when your ESTA application is approved, there is no need to print it, as customs officials will read it on your passport.

ESTA Authorization

Please note that the ESTA authorization is valid for 2 years from the day it is received. If during these two years, the validity of your passport reaches its expiration date, you will have to renew your passport and apply for a new ESTA.

Airline tickets

Yes, it seems logical to have airline tickets, but for the United States, it is mandatory to use an airline or shipping company recognized by the country. In addition, do not wait until you are there to take your return ticket to France (or your country of origin). If the security officer observes upon arrival that you do not have a return ticket, he or she may deny you access to the U.S., thinking that your reason for traveling is to illegally immigrate to the U.S.

Please note: Even with your ESTA travel authorization (and a round-trip ticket), U.S. Customs has the right to deny you entry. An ESTA is an authorization to travel to the United States (by air or sea), but is not an authorization to enter the country.

Or by the visa?

An ESTA is not a visa. The two documents are quite distinct from each other, as the ESTA allows the traveler to be exempted from a visa for their temporary stay. There are many different types of visas: work visas, internships, study visas, business visas, etc. A visa application is known to be more expensive and time consuming than an ESTA application.

The persons concerned by the obtaining of a visa are those having received :

An ESTA refused

After filling out the online form, it will take up to 72 hours for your request to be answered and you will be able to get 3 different responses: approved, pending or denied. For the latter, there are two possible causes: copying errors in your identity information or failure to meet the criteria for obtaining it. To avoid copying errors, make sure you take your time and have your passport available or use a private service provider.

If you do not meet the ESTA application requirements, you will need to apply for a visa at the consular services of the American embassy (or consulate general). A Green Card application is also possible if you wish to become a permanent resident. As for the visa, you will have to contact the US embassy.