Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an online method of applying for authorization to travel to the USA, and is available to all nationals and passport holders from countries that participate in the ESTA Program. The UK is one of these countries. Once approved, ESTA APPLICATIONS remain valid for either two years or until the applicant’s current passport expires, whichever is sooner. Holders of valid ESTA authorization may, when travelling to the USA, remain in the country for up to 90 days at any one time.
Those who plan to remain in the USA for a short period of time, i.e. fewer than 90 days, may use the ESTA application process to simplify the visa application process and save time. In addition, the ESTA has other advantages, notably for those who are travelling to the USA from participating countries, and using the UK as a stopping point on the journey. Nationals from other countries participating in the VWP who fly into the UK and are heading to or from the USA are also required to have ESTA authorization. Hence, if you are flying to New York from another VWP country and require a stay in the UK on the way, you should have ESTA authority. It is notable that the majority of ESTA authorization applications gain approval without problem; the exceptions to the rule are those persons who intend to remain in the USA for more than 90 days, and those who are, for whatever reason, not eligible to apply for the VWP. Travellers should be aware that, although the ESTA allows for travel to the USA without a visa, the entry of individuals to the country remains at the discretion of the immigration officer with authority at the point of entry.
He major advantage of the ESTA is that application is much easier than that required for a traditional visa. All that is needed to apply for travel authorization to the USA is the following: a passport that can be machine read, the correctly completed online application form and a valid credit card that can be used to process payment for the application online. Details such as flight and hotel reservations are not necessary for ESTA application, and further details of your movements while in the USA may be agreed at any point before the date of departure.
It is important to understand that ESTA is available only to citizens of those countries that have agreed to participate in the Visa Waiver Program. Applicants should be confident that you are eligible for ESTA before submitting an application. As the ESTA application is entirely an online process there are no physical paper forms to fill in, and applicants are not required to attend a US Embassy or Consulate as with a traditional visa application. To check whether you are eligible for ESTA, take the ESTA eligibility test by clicking below.
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