There are several exceptions when an ESTA permit does not apply for arrival in the United States:

  • If you intend to arrive at the U.S. aboard a Visa Waiver Program non-signatory air carrier;
  • If you intend to visit the U.S. for more than 90 days;
  • If you believe any grounds of inadmissibility of the Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a) apply to you, you should apply for a non-immigrant visa;
  • If you are travelling to the United States. for a purpose other than short-term tourism or business.

It is important to know that a visa is not the same as an ESTA.

The most important provision of the ESTA is that only citizens of the countries participating in the Visa-Free Entry Program can apply and use the ESTA as a form of travel permit. This means that if you are a citizen of one of the countries of the visa-free program and are traveling to the United States in accordance with the VWP rules, you do not need to obtain a visa.

Therefore, in all cases where the ESTA cannot be used, a visa of the appropriate type will be required.

The VWP rules state that the ESTA can be used by citizens of VWP countries only in the following cases:

  • Traveling to the USA for no longer than 90 days
  • Visiting for tourism, transits or doing business
  • Arriving by air or sea

For example, if you are a citizen of one of the countries of the visa-free program, but you plan to stay in America for more than 90 days, you will have to get a visa.

This means that even if you are eligible to travel to the US with an ESTA, it is not always possible to use it due to VWP rules.

If you are not sure how you can use your ESTA and whether you need to get a visa in various situations, please contact our experts who will answer all questions regarding visa-free travel to the United States.

In some cases, you may need a visa if for some reason your ESTA application is not approved. There may be many reasons for this, but it is worth noting that if your ESTA application has not been approved, you may also have problems obtaining a visa.

If you want to be sure that the ESTA can be used for your next trip to the United States, please read more about visa-free travel in our blog or visit the frequently asked questions section.