What to Think About When Applying for an ESTA

When traveling to the United States, it’s important to know if you will need a VISA or just ESTA. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is a much simpler option than the VISA if the trip is for business or tourism. As with most travel details, there are a lot of tips for applying for ESTA that could make the experience much easier.

Don’t Put It Off


An ESTA is valid for 2 years from approval, this means you don’t have to wait until the last minute to get one. In fact, you really shouldn’t. For foreign nationals, the United States requires that the application is completed 72 or more hours before admittance is needed. While this is enough time for most travelers, there are issues that could complicate things and require more time. For example, an arrest record could make the process take longer and you may need a lawyer in some cases. If there is a problem and your ESTA is rejected, you’ll need to apply for a full VISA which can take a lot longer to complete. While the ESTA really only needs to be valid when you are planning on leaving the port of entry, it’s still not a good idea to put it off for too long.

You Might Not Need a Lawyer


While a lot of people are intimidated by the process to obtain an ESTA, as long as you follow the directions and don’t have anything in your past that may raise concerns, you can probably apply for an ESTA by yourself. This can save you a decent amount of money as it only costs around $20 to complete and can be done completely online. Compared to a lot of government forms in the United States, it’s relatively simple in a lot of cases.

Duration is Important


An ESTA is only good for trips to the United States that are not going to last more than 90 days. Fortunately, if you return to a country that is not directly neighboring the United States, the 90-day timer usually resets and you are free to spend another 90 days in the country. Also, remember that the ESTA expires when your passport does if the passport is set to expire before the 2 years are up. It’s important to make sure that both of these documents are up to date and valid for the entirety of your trip.

Be Completely Honest


While you may end up being a slight bit dishonest on a job application, it’s important to be completely honest about your history on the ESTA. If it is found out that you were less than honest on your application, you stand a chance of being denied entry to the United States at all. Some of the issues that could come up are past arrest or issues with immigration, especially to the United States. If you have any concerns about this, it might not be a bad idea to talk to an immigration lawyer.

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