A specific travel permit is required to visit the United States. There are only five countries in the world whose citizens can freely travel to the United States. In all other cases, you will need a US visa or, for some travelers, an ESTA. There are several similarities and several fundamental differences between an ESTA application and a visa. In this article, we will look at the steps of the electronic system for obtaining an entry permit, as well as understand who needs a US visitor visa and how. Then we will show the difference between ESTA applications and a visa.


Travelers coming to the United States require some travel documents. Citizens of Canada, Israel, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau can visit the United States without an entry permit. But, if you are traveling by plane, you need to request an OK Board permit and pay a $ 20 fee.

The Bahamas, Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Canada, the Cayman Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands and some Mexicans can travel to the United States without a visa. Most other countries require a US visitor visa, and 39 countries participating in the visa-free program can obtain an ESTA entry permit. How long can you stay in the United States without a visa? Travelers who have an ESTA entry permit can stay in the United States for up to 90 days. But let’s look at this in more detail: What is an ESTA?


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The main criterion when we consider the difference between an esta application and a visa is security. Countries participating in the visa-free program are considered safer, and travelers are considered less dangerous. However, other visitors are not automatically perceived as a threat. Currently, 39 countries participate in the visa-free program.

Who needs an ESTA? ESTA is needed for people who visit the United States from this country by air or by ship. While most countries in the world require a valid visa to enter the United States, selected 39 American VWP partners can easily and quickly obtain an entry permit online. If you are traveling by air or by sea, you need to have an entry permit. It is best to get it in advance, since it is valid for two years, and you will be able to easily plan your trip after receiving the ESTA.

The process itself is relatively simple. During the online procedure, you will need to fill in personal information and answer a number of clarifying questions. You should also indicate your social media accounts, if you have had them in the last five years. This information was optional, but since 2020 it is mandatory for ESTA applicants.

When submitting an ESTA application online, you must pay a fee. If you fill out applications for a larger number of people, for example, for the whole family, each family member must pay a fee. All information in the ESTA application must be submitted in English. The US administration needs about 72 hours to review the application.

Instagram Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and social accounts, in addition to data such as age, gender, address, and social accounts, there are several other mandatory pieces of information. First, there is a field about the point of contact in the online questionnaire. If you don’t have one, you can leave this field unknown, but you must write everything about the first night with the address and phone number of the hotel, Airbnb or other accommodation. The field that you must fill in is an emergency contact. This may be the same contact point as you have, or it may be a person in your home country.

When do I need an ESTA? It is needed for any trip by air or by ship from the VWP countries, and it is needed on time. However, if you have an emergency and you need to fly to the United States urgently, you can buy plane tickets, but it is not known whether you will receive an ESTA on time. There is a chance that the administration will be able to process your request quickly. ESTA online status is always available for you. You will need your unique ESTA application number, your passport number and the personal information that you used to submit the application.

With ESTA, you can visit the United States an unlimited number of times for two years, but you can stay in the country for 90 days at a time. So, let’s take a closer look at the difference between an ESTA application and a visa.


Outside of the visa-free program, almost all other countries of the world require a US visa. Obtaining a visa is a long process, including a visit to the US Embassy and an interview with employees of the US administration.

When we talk about a US visa as a travel document, we are talking about non-immigrant visas. In general, there are three types of US visas: a guest visa, a student visa or an exchange visa, as well as all other non-immigrant visas. Visa services name 34 possible reasons and codes for non-immigrant visas.

The purpose of your trip determines the type of visa that you will need. Unlike the ESTA permit, the visa does not expire along with the passport, and you can still travel to the United States with a valid visa and an expired passport and a new passport.

A significant difference between an ESTA and a nonimmigrant US visa is the length of the process. While travelers who are eligible for an ESTA permit can get a travel permit within three days, the administrative processing of a US visa takes about 180 days just to get an appointment for an interview with a consulate employee. In addition, the one-time fee for the online ESTA procedure is 85.00Є, while the cost of most types of non-immigrant visas is $160.

However, there are some advantages of a US visa over an ESTA entry permit. The validity period of a nonimmigrant visa can be from one month to a maximum of 10 years. During this period, you can visit the United States several times and with a maximum duration of 6 months per stay.


Throughout American history, laws and acts aimed at solving immigration problems have changed. The first law was passed in 1790, and it stated that you can become a US citizen if you are a white person with good moral qualities and have lived in the US for at least two years.

After about 80 years, people of African descent received the right to citizenship. The first restrictions appeared in 1875, prohibiting immigration for criminals, polygamists, prostitutes and other persons of an unsuitable profile. Among unwanted immigrants, the administration has restricted migration from China and most Asian countries.

At the turn of the century, most immigrants to the United States were not from Northern and Western Europe. In the 1920s, the US government passed laws aimed at restoring a favorable immigration structure in favor of residents of Northern and Western Europe.

Significant changes occurred in 1965 against the background of the civil rights movement, when many factors contributed to the adoption of the Immigration and Citizenship Act. The new law favored family reunification and focused on qualified workers instead of a system of quotas by country. After the adoption of this law, immigrants from Latin America and Asia prevailed in immigration. Some other changes, such as the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, legalized millions of illegal immigrants. In connection with various terrorist threats, the new laws were aimed at tightening the admission conditions.


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A thorough background check will allow you to find out everything about the applicant’s history. People who are not eligible for an ESTA include travelers who have been arrested. They don’t have to be persecuted or convicted. The exception is travelers with a criminal past, infectious diseases or infectious diseases. If you were deported or overstayed your previous entry permit, you will also be excluded from the ESTA program, and you can try to get a US visa.

There are several points to keep in mind. First, travelers who have received an ESTA permit must have holding or transit tickets. If you have electronic tickets, you must present a copy of the itinerary when entering the United States. Secondly, for the final destination in Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or the Caribbean, you can only pass if you are a permanent resident of the destination indicated on the ticket.

Another requirement for obtaining an ESTA travel permit states that travelers must have a passport valid for at least six months after the planned end of the trip.


  • Do not overstay the planned period of stay. ESTA authorization lets travellers stay for up to 90 days in one visit. If you stay even one day over the top, you will be banned for life from Electronic System for Travel Authorization.
  • Things are a bit different and somewhat more forgiving for travellers and holders of US Visa. If you overstay up to 180 days, you will have the opportunity to apply again for Visa, but you will still be ineligible for Visa Waiver Program.
  • For longer overstays in the US, there are different policies. People who overstayed for more than 180 days but less than a year can’t re-enter the US for another three years. If you stayed over a year, you would not get the chance to return in the next ten years. There is no time limit for immigrants removed by immigration services and will be banned for life from re-entry.
  • There are some exemptions from the strict immigration rules. For example, people who seek asylum, underaged people, beneficiaries of the Family Unity Program, victims of trafficking, and domestic abuse can be exempt from the bans caused by overstay in the US under the Visa.



The ESTA permit is valid for two years, and you can come to the United States several times. However, the maximum duration of one stay is 90 days.


It depends on the type of visa you are applying for, but most of them have a duration of one month to ten years. For example, with a US visa, you can visit the US several times, and the maximum duration of one visit is six months.


ESTA is a fast online procedure consisting of a detailed questionnaire, and you can get the results within three days. On the other hand, a meeting at the local US embassy is required to obtain a US visa, and you can wait for this meeting for almost six months. Another significant difference is the cost. The one-time fee for ESTA is 85.00Є, and for US Visa – $180.


You can instruct a third party to apply for an ESTA and a visa. However, you must know all the information and have the authority, and to obtain a visa, you will have to personally come to the embassy for a meeting.


Do You Have U.S. ESTA VISA Travel Authorization? If You Have ESTA Application, Check if it is Still Valid!

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Electronic systems for obtaining an entry permit and a US visa have more differences than similarities. ESTA is a quick and convenient way to obtain a permit to enter the United States, while the process of obtaining a US visa is much longer and more complex. It includes an individual interview with an employee of the US Embassy.

Another significant difference is the validity period and the duration of the stay. According to ESTA, you can come to the United States for two years and stay in the country for no more than 90 days. With a US visa (depending on the type), you can stay in the country from one month to ten years. If you do not comply with the terms of your stay, you will be banned from participating in the ESTA program for life. The US visa in this case is more sparing.

Finally, if you don’t get an ESTA, you can apply for an American visa. However, this is not the case, and only persons who are eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program can use it.