New Visa Waiver Requirements, effective January 12, 2009
Replies: 321 - Last Post: Jan 11, 2013 5:11 AM Last Post By: katija
Jan 12, 2009 8:16 AM
New Visa Waiver Requirements, effective January 12, 2009This post edited August 8, 2010 to provide updated information on new fees and to note the duration of ESTA validity. After September 8, 2010, a fee will be required to apply or renew.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization
ESTA is a free, automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program [VWP].
As of January 12, 2009, all VWP travelers are required to obtain a travel authorization via ESTA prior to traveling to the United States under the VWP.
All nationals or citizens of VWP countries who plan to travel to the United States for temporary business or pleasure under the VWP are required to receive an authorization through ESTA prior to boarding a U.S.-bound airplane or vessel. Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are also required to obtain an independent ESTA approval. A third party, such as a relative or travel agent, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler.
You must apply for ESTA even if you are only transiting the U.S. by air. In the address field of the application, write "In Transit."
If you are a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), and you enter the U.S. by land from Mexico or Canada, you are only required to complete the paper I-94W form at the land border crossing. ESTA is currently required for air and cruise ship travel only.
Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA.
If you are not a citizen of a VWP Country, you do NOT need to apply for ESTA since the only way to come here is with a visa.
ESTA is required for travel to Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands; ESTA is not required for travel to the US territories of Guam or Saipan
Unless revoked, travel authorizations are valid for two years from the date of authorization, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.
Apply for ESTA here
ESTA Fact Sheets in 10 languages
Frequently Asked Questions About ESTA
Beginning on September 8, 2010, there will be a US$14 fee for electronic travel authorization applications.
All payments for electronic travel authorization applications must be made by credit card or debit card when applying for or renewing an ESTA at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA system currently accepts only the following credit/debit cards: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, and Discover. Your application will not be submitted for processing until all payment information is received.
Beware of non-offiical web sites that offer to do the ESTA application for you. The ESTA Fact Sheet says:
VWP travelers should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established Web sites that charge a fee to provide information about ESTA and to submit ESTA applications on behalf of the VWP traveler.These businesses andWeb sites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with DHS or the United States Government. Use of a private service to apply for travel authorization via ESTA will not expedite the granting of approval.
Edited by: Yersinia
Jan 27, 2009 5:51 PM
1I'm mildly confused by this.. I'm travelling to the US on the 4th of Feb from a Canadian land border and then I want to take a domestic flight a few days later before flying out of the US to Guatemala. Do I need to get one of these? According to the application page I only require one if entering from a air or sea port. I did in fact try to apply for one anyway until I got to the part requiring my intended port of entry and it wouldn't accept land.. I'm I likely to run into problems at the border or on my internal flights?
Jan 27, 2009 5:52 PM
Jan 28, 2009 6:56 AM
Feb 15, 2009 9:33 AM
Feb 16, 2009 1:37 AM
5Well my view (admittedly based on logic and guesswork rather than detailed knowledge) is that if you are approved online there is no obstacle to you entering the US - just as long as you give the same answers on the green form that you still for the moment get on the plane, and don't give any impression you are going to work/overstay.
It means that a - you have given the 'right' answer to the questions and b - there is nothing unfavourable on their computer system about you.
Feb 20, 2009 6:51 AM
Mar 4, 2009 11:04 PM
7Does anything get sent out to us once we have filled out the application. I am an Australian travelling through asia and want to head over to the US, i dont have a address if anything needs to be sent by mail.
Is is as simple as filling it out before u get on the plane?
Mar 5, 2009 3:22 AM
Mar 7, 2009 2:27 AM
9Hi I have a British passport, which means I am eligible to do the visa wavier thingy online, which I did and I got approved few days ago. I was an international student in the US and my i-20 expires on Dec12,08, however my f-1 visa hasn't expired yet. Anyway I departed the US on the 15th of Feb, which is 5 days after the 60-days grace period, which means I techically overstayed for 5 days. I am just wondering if I can still enter the US with no problem? Bearing remind, my online visa wavier was approved.
Mar 7, 2009 4:39 PM
Mar 8, 2009 9:50 PM
Uh, here's another question to add to what's become a VW thread!
I'm taking a trip from Quebec/Montreal, where I've been staying for near enough to two and a half months, to California. British Citizen, spiffy new electronic passport, cleared by ESTA. Any problems that I'm going back to Canada for a week before I pack up and leave for the UK? Half-saw somewhere that as a Brit.Cit your return ticket shouldn't be to a country that borders the US. Is my return ticket the one back to Montreal or the one to the UK at the end of it all?
Answers (even un-reassuring ones..) gratefully received!
Mar 9, 2009 3:16 AM
12#11, it depends.
If you are traveling overland, you don't need an onward ticket. Since you are heading to California, I'll go ahead and assume this is not the case, which means you need a ticket to a destination outside "North America" (that would be the UK).
If you have not been in the US on this trip yet, even to transit, you should be fine.
If you have entered the US, it depends how much time has passed. If the entire trip is under 90 days, you should be ok. If not, see post #6.
Mar 9, 2009 7:08 AM
13Just an update on my original post.
The ESTA online stuff is a big fat joke.....we did it all, got the approval to travel, booked the tickets and after flying for almost 9 hours to the USA were refused entry on the grounds that we had overstayed previously.
Yes it was our fault for overstaying however the ESTA process should have told us straight away that we were not able to enter the US without visas. So after wasting not only the price of 4 airline tickets but also a lot of time it could have all been avoided if the system worked correctly.
BTW our eldest daughter is an american so they effectively wouldn't allow one of their own in!!
So called 3rd world countries have better systems than this.
Mar 9, 2009 7:47 AM
The ESTA is NOT a all-encompassing "free pass" into the states. It's an electronic I-94W form, which was normally filled in on the plane. Even if you are approved, the border guard has final say. That's the way it is.
Btw, if you had previously overstayed, you should already have known that you needed a visa. (If you would've mentioned this fact in your earlier post, or another thread, we probably could've saved you the headache.) The VWP explicitly states you are ineligible if you have overstayed previously. It sucks, but it's your fault for not following the rules, both then and now.
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