The United States of America has a Visa Waiver Program which opens the doors for citizens from certain countries with ties to the United States. Through the Visa Waiver Program they are able to travel the country for tourism & business purposes. It also allows citizens from these countries to stop over in the United States and stay there in transit before connecting on to a flight to another destination.
However those that qualify under the Visa Waiver Program cannot just turn up at their local airport and fly to the United States. First they need to apply for authorization which is done through ESTA. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is an entirely automated system that checks whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States through the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA application is a simple process which requires the applicant to answer a number of eligibility questions and Biographic information through the online application.
The ESTA application only costs $14 and you will be refunded $10 if your application does not go through. Despite that however it is important to check whether you need to apply for an ESTA to avoid wasting your time and to ensure that your trip is eligible through the Visa Waiver Program. In some cases a Visa may be required instead.
The following points below will provide you with this information:
What country are you from?
Only the citizens from countries listed in the Visa Waiver Program can apply for ESTA authentication. Below are the list of countries that are part of the USA’s Visa Waiver Program. Take into account if you are already a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, even if you are from a VWP country then you are not required to apply for ESTA.
•Republic of Malta
How are you entering the USA
You are only required to apply through ESTA if you arrive to the country by plane or sea. However those that are from a VWP country and travel overland from Mexico or Canada do not require an ESTA.
How long is your trip?
ESTA authorization allows you to have multiple trips to the United States of America and is valid for a period of two years. This does not mean you can stay in the USA for two years, the Visa waiver program terms allow to stay for a maximum period of 90 days per trip. If your planned trip is longer than 90 days you should apply for a Visa instead.
What is the reason for your trip?
Authorization to visit the United States of America through the ESTA entitles Visitors under the Visa Waiver Program to visit the country on both tourism and short business trips. ESTA approval does not authorize visitors to come to the United States to work in the country. Those looking to live and work in the United States will need to apply for a working visa instead.