All You Need To Know About ESTA

by Julia on April 19, 2017


There is no greater education than travelling to see first-hand what living in other cultures is like. Travelling across borders can be so much fun and it is almost tempting to pack a bag and board the plane to wherever catches one’s fancy but there are restrictions that must be well understood. The last thing you want to do is lose money and time because you made an avoidable mistake.

Countries of the world check the inflow of visitors into their country by putting out regulations that limit the number of people with free access into the country. Visas are the most common checks that countries put into place to check the eligibility of those seeking to come into their country. However there are countries that have pacts with some other countries to waive some of these requirements needed to provide ease of movement into such countries by their citizens. One of such pacts is the one that exists within the EU making it possible for EU members’ citizens to travel within the EU without much encumberment.

The United States is a desirable destination for a lot of people for many reasons; business and pleasure alike. If you are not a citizen or a permanent resident, you may need to secure a visa to be allowed entrance into the United States.

You will agree with me that applying for visas has its shortfalls. The long list of questions is capable of stirring headaches, making it such a relief that there is a quicker option. However, citizens of particular countries may be granted entrance into the United States without need for a visa. Such countries are those under the United States Visa Waiver Program.

Those under this Visa Waiver Program may travel free but there is a requirement to get ESTA before travelling.

Check to see if you are eligible.

What is An ESTA.

ESTA is an acronym for Electronic System Travel Authorisation. It is an online system employed by the United States in determining whether a person may enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. It is compulsory for anyone under the VWP travelling into the US through air or by sea to get an ESTA approval. It is however not required if you are entering the US by land.

Before you apply for an ESTA under the VWP, you must make sure that you have a valid e-passport; that you are not staying more than 90 days at once and you have a return ticket.

If all these are in place, you may apply for your ESTA

In order to determine your eligibility on whether or not you are eligible to travel visa free, you would submit biographic information and answer questions bordering largely on security and law enforcement.

Approval status response is immediate most times but there are instances where you may have to wait for about three days to know if you have gotten an approval or not.

What Are the Limitations?

Being exempted under the VWP has its restrictions too.

While it may be very comforting not to have to pass through the rigors of applying for a visa, you should bear in mind that there are some restrictions that still apply.

  • Being eligible under the Visa Waiver doesn’t guarantee you entry, your entry is totally dependent on the discretion of the US Customs and Border Protection officials who may decide to deny you entry if you pose a threat or you are suspected to have other intentions asides from the one declared.

  • Another downfall is that you wouldn’t be allowed to be heard by a judge should you be deported. Let’s assume things came up and you overstayed your 90-days making it imperative for you to get deported, you have absolutely no case to make as you wouldn’t be allowed such privilege. If you had travelled on a visa, you would have been allowed hearing before an immigration judge.

  • 90 days or less is the longest you can stay. While your approval may be valid for two years, you are really allowed to stay for a period of 90days or less at once. Your approval may be revoked if you flunk this requirement. There are however rare times such as an emergency when you may be allowed to stay longer than the 90 days.

  • You cannot change your immigration status; should you get enrolled into your dream school or need to change your status for some other purpose; you wouldn’t be allowed to change your immigration status. Well, except if you find love and you get married, making you eligible for a green card.

  • You must also travel with ESTA participating carriers

Important Point.

You may still apply for a visa after being denied an ESTA approval. Also, If your travel purpose doesn’t fall under VWP, then you should apply for a visa.


It is very important that you get the right information about where you want to visit and the options that are available to you before finalizing your plans.

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