What ESTA Has To Do With Your USA Trip
ESTA is the acronym for the name of the web-based system data collection system that is being used to decide about the eligibility of travels to visit the country of America under the Visa Waiver Program and whether these people pose a risk to the country’s security.
Being approved by ESTA gives you travel authorization to ride a plane and travel to America under the Visa Waiver Program. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recommends applying in the 72 hours prior to your trip, but you can apply any time before boarding, especially as, in most cases, a response can be received within seconds of 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 cannot replace a U.S. visa as required by law. A U.S. visa serves the purpose for which it is issued and need not the accompaniment of an ESTA. 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 not merely optional, it has been required since the twelfth January 2009. For each applicant under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), completion of a blue Customs declaration form is needed, not anymore that I-94W card in green, whether they do or do not possess ESTA authorization.
One of the major benefits of obtaining an approved ESTA is its length of validity which is two whole years, or that is, until your passport expires – whichever of these may come first – and will render the traveler legible for multiple different occasions of traveling to the United States without the need to re-apply for a second 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!
For holders with an approved application and a passport that expires in under two years, they will be issued an ESTA valid only up to that point.
Click here for a more elaborate description of all of the requirements of an ESTA.