Since 1988, citizens of the United Kingdom have had special travel privileges when it comes to visiting the United States. Today, these privileges include being eligible to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), a digital travel document that saves time and money before and during travel. Read on to learn the differences between ESTA and a traditional Embassy visa, who can apply for ESTA, and what the application process is like.
In this article, we’ll go over:
1. What is ESTA?
2. What’s the difference between ESTA and a traditional Embassy visa?
3. Who qualifies for ESTA?
4. ESTA validity and stay length
5. How can I apply for ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA, is an electronic travel document designed for travelers from eligible countries who wish to enter the US for short business or tourism trips (less than 90 days). The UK was the first nation to join the US Visa Waiver Program, in 1988; UK citizens have been able to apply for ESTA since its creation in 2006.
One of the biggest differences between ESTA and a traditional Embassy visa is how much time and effort they each take to obtain. A traditional Embassy visa requires in-person visits to an American Embassy or Consulate for paperwork and interviews, no matter how far away they might be from the applicant’s home. Moreover, there are higher costs associated with the application process, as well as travel costs to and from the Embassy. Applicants might even expect to miss work in order to complete the interview process.
The ESTA application, on the other hand, can be completed quickly and easily from any location with an internet connection. Evisa Express provides a streamlined application system with 24/7 support. There’s no commuting required – and you can expect your approved ESTA within 72 hours.
You are probably eligible for ESTA if you...
• Hold a valid British passport
• Can show that you have enough money to support you during your trip
• Will be traveling by air (UK citizens entering the US by land or sea are not eligible for ESTA)
• Have not traveled to Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, or Yemen since March 2011
• Are not a dual citizen of Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan
• Haven’t been arrested, and don’t have serious communicable illnesses such as tuberculosis
If you are granted an ESTA, the following parameters apply:
1. Your ESTA is valid for 2 years from the date of issuance
2. You may spend up to 90 consecutive days in the United States within the 2-year validity period
3. You may enter and leave the United States multiple times within the 2-year validity period
Technically, there is no limit to the number of 90-day periods you can spend in the US within the 2-year validity period, as long as you leave the US between visits. However, you may be prevented from re-entering at the US border if immigration officials suspect you are simply trying to “reset the clock”. Travelers who wish to spend more than 90 days in the United States are encouraged to apply for a traditional Embassy visa.
You are allowed to leave the US to visit Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean during your stay. However, any time you spend there will be included as part of the duration of your trip to the US. For example, if you spend 50 days in the US, then travel to Mexico for 10 days, you will have spent 60 days on your ESTA, with 30 days remaining.
Applying for your official, US-government-issued ESTA is simple and inexpensive when you apply with Evisa Express. Our streamlined application process can be completed in 4 steps:
Remember, it’s best to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before your trip. If you show up to board your flight to the US without an approved ESTA, you will likely be denied entry to the plane.
Need ESTA? There’s no better place to apply than Evisa Express. We have years of experience in facilitating electronic visa applications worldwide. Our team of ESTA experts is on hand around the clock, ready to assist you with all questions and concerns. Evisa Express: You take care of your trip; we take care of your visa.