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The authorization process was put into place to make travel safe and secure for citizens from countries participating in Visa Waiver Program. These countries fulfill the necessary security standards for US travelers. But the objective of ESTA Visa is to filter travelers from those who don’t meet the standard security standards and need a thorough examination before they are allowed to enter into the US territories. Presently there are only 38 countries participating in VWP. And travelers from these countries need not taking regular visa for traveling to US for short trips not extending to 90 days.
The US government has simplified its security norms for travelers that often come to US for meeting their families or for business. Number of these travelers is growing and the US government wants to make travel a hassle free affair for the visitors. ESTA is electronic authorization system that removes need of thorough security of the traveler but the final decision is left with the Department of Homeland Security. ESTA is a simple online form that can be filled before 72 hours of travel and the authorization obtained within an hour.
The ESTA Visa form is available on US government website and it is submitted with a nominal fee of $14. The travelers have to enter the information on their own and the information provided must be accurate. The form must be free from errors like typos as errors can make the information difficult to understand.
Travelers are advised to apply for electronic authorization at least 72 hours before their travel. But application can also be sent before one hour of travel. Obtaining authorization in advance secures travel. In case, the authorization is declined, the travelers can take the regular visa route to get permission to enter into the US. But if the permission is declined at last moment then the travelers will have no way left to get regular visa. There should be no hassle in applying 72 hours before travel. Those who are ready to travel to US should apply for electronic authorization in advance.
ESTA Visa application is sent online and there is government as well as third-party sites that provide electronic authorization application. Travelers from VWP countries must obtain E-S-T-A as soon as they plan travel. Government charges $14 for processing but a third party site might charge more for service. There is no harm in taking help of a third-party site, if the website provides real help like comprehensive information needed for filling the application. The applicant must remain careful when entering information in the ESTA application.
Every year millions of travelers from VWP countries come to US for personal and business work and they remain in the US for a short duration. But they have to go through the lengthy process of regular visa. The E-S-T-A is aimed at making US travel a hassle free affair for those travelers that can be exempted from taking regular visa and going through thorough screening for security.
Electronic authorization is valid for two years from the date of issue or expiry of the passport whichever arrives first.But there are other factors as well that determine validity of electronic authorization. The visa stands cancelled, in case the user gets a new passport or changes his name. To understand the validity clause, you must understand the real objective of authorization. It is prescreening of travelers hence any change in the number of passport or name of the traveler won’t help in screening. Travelers holding electronic authorization can make multiple visits to US until the validity of visa.
ESTA is provided only for a period of ninety days at a stretch and if the traveler plans to stay beyond the authorized time, he/she is asked to apply for regular visa but a E-S-T-A traveler will in no case be allowed to stay in the US after 90 days period that is the specified time for travelers. Objective of electronic authorization is to facilitate small trips made for personal and business purposes. The US government wants to help its visitors and also it wants to enhance its security arrangement.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization is only for short travels and not for working or staying in the US. Travelers must be clear on the objective and validity of the visa before they make any plan for US travel. It is a service extended for travelers from VWP countries.
It must be clear to all traveling with ESTA that it isn’t the permission they are looking for. It isn’t a regular visa but only authorization certificate that authorizes travelers to go to US but the final decision of allowing an ESTA holder into the US territories lies with the Department of Homeland Security. The US security officials examine the authorization and all other security aspects before allowing a traveler to enter into the US territory. But permission denied, if the officials find the traveler of dubious character.
ESTA is a prescreening process that helps the officials of Department of Homeland Security to determine reliability of travelers. When a traveler applies for E-S-T-A, he/she is screened for his/her name, passport number and the background check. The US has access to details of every traveler from VWP countries. The US officials can access information related to travelers and establish their reliability within an hour. It is for this reason that electronic travel authorization is issued within hours of submitting application for registration. But some applications are rejected for want of information.
Rejection of ESTA application doesn’t mean end of road for travelers. But it is a suggestion that they should take the regular visa route to US. The regular process is lengthy but suitable for longer stays. ESTA is limited to short travels. There should be no doubt about travel authorization before you start filling your application.