What Is an ESTA and Who Needs One?

What Is an ESTA and Who Needs One?

You might need a USA ESTA application and not even know it.

If your business requires you to visit the US for a few days in order to meet with business contacts or clients, for instance, you will need to apply for this pass.

Usually, people who are not US citizens who want to visit the US for a short time require this form. It’s important to understand not only who needs one but also why. It can get a little confusing when people are throwing forms and requirements at you from all directions.  In this post, we explain what the ESTA is and why you should concern yourself with it.




So, What Is the ESTA?

The acronym stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. It fulfills the role of an automated service which will screen people before they cross over into the US.

Such a screening can uncover many things. Most of that has to do with a person’s background. The people in charge of who is allowed to enter the US mostly want to know what kind of past you’ve had. They also want to know if you have had any run-ins with the law.

Of course it makes sense as to why they would be interested in this sort of information. It helps them filter out potentially dangerous individuals from entering their country.


How Long Does It Last?

With the ESTA a person can live in the US for up to 90 days, but anything past that requires a visa. Getting a visa is a completely different experience. You will need to get in touch with the people responsible for visa admittance at the local embassy. Contact them before your ESTA pass expires.


Is It Mandatory or Just an Option?

The pass is mandatory when you are not a US citizen and you want to stay in the US for up to 90 days. Even if you plan on staying a lot less time than 90 days, you still need one.

This pass applies to more than one case, however. For instance, if you’re traveling somewhere else but need to catch a connecting flight from the US, you will still need the ESTA.


When It’s Not Necessary

If you already have a visa, regardless of its nature, you won’t need the ESTA form. Some people travel to the US as students while others find jobs there. Others are simple tourists. The US issues visas for all these different categories of visitors, so there are a lot of ways in which you could upgrade to a visa.



How to Get One

The ESTA is fairly easy to request, as all you need to do is visit the official website. There you will find the form. Fill it out with your personal information regarding your background and the other information it requests.

It might take a while before your application is approved. So fill the application out and send it for verification well ahead of your departure date. If you find it difficult to fill out the form on your own, there are organizations which can help you fill out the form in exchange for a fee.

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