1. FOR WHO AND WHAT IS AN ESTA MEANT FOR?
ESTA, short for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, essentially is, as the name implies, a travel authorization.
It was made under the Visa Waiver Program, in which currently there are 39-member countries. These countries are considered “safe enough” to not have their citizens obtain a Visa, rather fill out an online form called ESTA.
An ESTA ensures an easier, quicker and more comfortable applying process to travel to the USA. No need to contact the Embassy of the United States of America to get a meeting and talk about getting a Visa.
Nevertheless, there are some rules and regulations on even the citizens of the VWP countries. The fact that an individual is a citizen of a country that is in the Visa Waiver Program does not automatically give them the green light for applying to an ESTA, or better yet its approval.
You must meet the below criteria in order to qualify for applying for an ESTA:
- Your reason for travel is leisure, business or transit.
- Your visit in the USA must be only 90 days or less.
If you have decided to have a long road trip all over the USA that will take more than 3 months, you MUST obtain a non-immigrant Visa, an ESTA will not work.
Or if you are planning on studying or getting employed in America, then an ESTA will also not work for your case, apply for a Visa.
ESTA is meant for short-term traveling in the United States.
Even though, it is a limited time, an approved ESTA is valid for two years from the day of approval. What that implies – throughout the period of two years, you can travel multiple times to the USA, on the condition that each trip does not extend 90 days.
The only exception to the above rule is if your passport expires prior to your approved ESTA expires (sooner than two years). In that case, once your passport expires so will your ESTA expire along with it. Once you get a new passport, apply for an ESTA again.