ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. You need this authorization before buying an air ticket to USA. It is not equivalent to a VISA. It is just an authorization, which required before you travel to USA. It is mandatory for every person travelling to USA (by air or through sea) to have ESTA from US Embassy.
This rule is in effect since Jan 12, 2009. One can apply online for ESTA. To get ESTA USA VISA application online, the procedure involves following simple steps:
- Complete online application form.
- Submit online application form.
- You should save your application number. It will be useful while tracking the status of your application.
- Make online payment. The fee is approximately US$14.
- Track you application status.
There few facts about ESTA, which you should know, such as:
- ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is not a VISA or equivalent to it. It is pre-entry criteria to board a plane or ship which lands/stops at USA or passes through it.
- This process helps the US government to scrutinize the VISA of all the people who are about board a plane or a ship from various countries to visit USA.
- There are 37 countries, which are included under VISA Waiver policy. But ESTA is mandatory for people from these countries as well. These countries are as follows:
|France||Republic of Malta|
- You should apply for ESTA, at least 72 hours prior to your flight.
- It is advisable to book your flight once you have ESTA sanctioned. It is so because if you got your air ticket confirmed, but ESTA is not sanctioned, then you cannot leave for USA. In this scenario, your air ticket will be wasted.
- It normally takes few hours to get ESTA sanctioned. But, if there is some problem in authentication or any other issues, then it may take as long as 15 days to a month.
- It is not guaranteed that if you have ESTA, then you will be allowed to enter USA. It is just to be able to board the flight/ship to USA. It all depends on the discretion of officer at US airport, once you arrive there.
- Validity period for ESTA is 2 years. It can be renewed after two years to be used in future.
- If you are traveling to US by land from Canada or Mexico, then you do not need ESTA.
- If you are found flying to US without ESTA, you and the respective airline will be heavily fined.
- Before September 8, 2010, getting an ESTA was free of charge and can be applied from government official websites. But after that an Act known as Travel Promotion Act was enforced and under that act, charge of US$14 was introduced for getting ESTA.