The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automatic system that determines whether one can travel to the United States without a visa. The Visa Waiver Program has been in operation since 2007, and it caters for both land and sea travel. The cost of an ESTA application is among the first things that anyone intending to use this service ought to consider. Many other factors are fundamental in this application, and we discuss some of them below.
• Country of origin/residence
The state you intend to travel from to the USA is vital in determining whether you need an ESTA application or not. Currently, thirty-nine countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program, and if you are from any of them, you can secure your sea or air travel to the USA through the system. If you are not from any of the 39 jurisdictions, ESTA does not apply to you. A visa from the US embassy or consulate in your locale is what you need to gain entry to any of the states via sea or air.
The cost of applying for ESTA is $14. However, third party sites that promise to expedite the process have emerged, and they charge more than the standard fee levied by the United States government. To cut off any unnecessary spending, apply for the waiver in the US government sites that only charge the standard price.
• Approval duration
This online system of authorization makes it easy for the United States government to consent to the entry of the applicant within a minute. Some applications take up to seventy-two hours before the needed permission is granted. It is advisable, therefore, that anyone planning to use this system to send in their requests 72-hours before their departure time.
• Expiry duration
This online system grants one person or a group entry into the United States for about two years. Each trip or stay should not be extended past the ninety-day limit as this may cause problems with the government. One approved ESTA application is valid for two years for both adult and baby, but one cannot stay in the USA for this entire duration. Beware of this fact when traveling to this country using this application. If your passport expires during the validity period, a new application has to be submitted for approval.
ESTA is denied to specific individuals due to their past and current activities. Some of the groups of people who will not get authorization for entry into the USA include immigrants with intentions of staying past the 90-day limit. A trend in this behavior has made it possible for the system to determine and red flag such individuals. An affiliation to terrorist and criminal enterprises is another factor that could lead to the denial of one’s application.
Various other factors we have not discussed are crucial. Visit the US government websites for more info. Important to note is that both individual and group applications are allowed by the system. None costs more than the other, but the group applications help save on time.