What is ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It is an online system implemented by the Government of USA for determining whether the citizens of any country are eligible to travel to the USA or not, taking into account all the terms and conditions of VWP (Visa waiver program). You won’t have to apply for USA visa; rather you can first fill the ESTA Visa US application form and receive Approved ESTA. From January 12th, 2009, anyone who wishes to travel to the United States of America by the Visa Waiver Program will have to hold a lawful ESTA Visa Relinquishment for the USA.
Difference between ESTA America and valid USA Visa
It takes about 24 hours to process the ESTA visa waiver. However, you must be clear about the concept of ESTA America. It is not a visa in itself. So, if you already have a valid US visa, then you need not apply for travel authorization, i.e., ESTA. Both the ESTA and valid USA Visa cannot be issued simultaneously to any individual. Upon arrival in the USA, the valid USA Visa holders have to fill in the Green I-94 card. However, the ones who hold the ESTA authorization will not have to fill that card upon arrival in the United States of America. Moreover, the blue customs declaration will have to be filled in by all the travelers, regardless of the Visa or travel authorization that they are holding.
The validity of ESTA USA
The validity of an ESTA USA is two consecutive years. Now, in these two years, you are allowed to visit the USA for short period of time for as many times as you want. However, you are not allowed to stay more than 90 days in 1 stay. If you are staying more than 90 days, then your ESTA will be rendered ineligible for any future application or entry. Thus, it is recommended to you that you should travel to the United States at reasonable intervals of time. You should not be abusing the rights that are provided to the ESTA holders. If you are traveling to and from America for long periods of time, then the border officials might start to think that you are intending to have a permanent residence over there.
Who needs to apply for ESTA?
If you wish to visit the United States of America for short period of time i.e., 90 days max and belong to any of the countries that are mentioned in Visa Waiver Program list, then you can apply for travel authorization to the USA by registering yourself through the ESTA form. New Zealand, United Kingdom, and Australia are amongst the 38 other countries mentioned in Visa Waiver program and are therefore eligible for obtaining the ESTA Visa. If any individual wants to transit to any other country via the route of United States, he will still need to obtain a proper authorization of ESTA. So, for that purpose, just fill the online application form of ESTA and get the approved authorization.
This is a collaborative post.