ESTA News

  • On January 21, the US implemented changes under the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015 (the Act). Under this Act, travellers in the following categories are no longer eligible to travel or be admitted to the US under the VWP:
    • nationals of VWP countries who have travelled to or been present in Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria on or after March 1, 2011 (with limited exceptions for travel for diplomatic or military purposes in the service of a VWP country); and
    • nationals of VWP countries who are also nationals of Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Syria.
  • An approved ESTA travel authorisation is only necessary for the purpose of traveling to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • The Electronic System for Travel Authorization has been available since August 1, 2008 where travellers could voluntarily apply for a travel authorisation. Now an approved US travel authorisation is required.
  • A US travel authorisation is valid for 2 years unless your passport expires earlier. In this scenario the passport and travel authorisation expiry date will be the same date.
  • Since January 12, 2009 a travel authorisation was made mandatory for all Visa Waiver travellers that intended to enter the United States by air or sea.
  • Applying for a travel authorisation is not related to any visa application processes. It is a separate requirement related only to Visa Waiver travellers and their trip to the United States.
  • The payment for ESTA can be done online with a debit or credit card. The US government charges a standard fee of $ 14.00. However, private companies (third party service provider) can assist with the processing of your travel authorisation where an additional processing fee will be charged.
  • Do you have a machine readable passport issued between October 26, 2005 and October 25, 2006? If so, your passport requires a digital photograph to be printed on the page that contains the your personal data. Alternatively the passport needs an integrated chip containing the information from the data page.
  • Canada, Mexico and Bermuda do not participate in the Visa Waiver Program.
  • The USA-PATRIOT Act requires that all Visa Waiver travellers to have a machine-readable passport. If you are from a Visa Waiver Country but hold an old passport (non-machine readable), you must apply for a visitor visa (B1/B2) in advance.
  • Citizens from Mexico can visit the US with a visitor visa or Border Crossing Card.
  • The US-VISIT program is series of security measures including screening of visitors, arrival of visitors and departure of visitors. The US-VISIT normally applies to all visitors holding non-immigrant visas. The US-VISIT program is not related to any visa procedures, it is only related to protect the US borders.
  • Private aircrafts are not eligible to participate in the Visa Waiver Program and carry passengers to the United States.

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