Below are frequently asked questions about ESTA that will help you understand the process better. If you have any more questions, then get in touch through our contact form.
What is an ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an online application system that determines travellers’ eligibility to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).
What Is the Visa Waiver Program?
The Visa Waiver Program, managed by the Department of Homeland Security, allows citizens of select countries to visit, and stay in, the US for business or pleasure for 90 days or less without a visa.
Which Countries Are Covered Under the VWP?
There are 38 of them: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom.
What Are the Passport Requirements for an ESTA Application?
- You must have a valid passport.
- Your passport must be an e-passport—an improved secure passport with an embedded electronic chip containing your biometric information.
- The zone on the biographic page of your passport must be machine-readable.
- You currently do not have a valid visitor’s visa
Do I Need to Visit a United States Embassy or Consulate to Obtain an ESTA?
No. Unlike the visa process, an ESTA application is done, processed, and approved/denied online.
What’s the validity of an ESTA?
An ESTA is valid for two years following the authorisation date or until the holder’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
You may also be required to obtain a new travel authorisation if you change your name, gender, or country of citizenship.
How Far in Advance Should I apply for an ESTA?
It’s recommended that you make your ESTA application 72 hours before your travel, as even though an ESTA can be processed instantly, a pending authorisation can expend up to 72 hours. Also, by applying well in advance, you would have ample time to apply for a visitor’s visa if your ESTA application is denied.
I Have Dual Citizenship. Do I still Qualify for an ESTA?
Yes, so long as any of the citizenships isn’t of Iraq, Syria, Iran, or Sudan.
How Do I Apply for an ESTA?
It’s simple. Go to www.esta-visa.ie, complete your application, review your application, and make your payment. Usually, you will receive one of the following three replies within 24 hours: ‘Authorization Approved’, ‘Travel not Authorized’, or ‘Authorization Pending’.
How Long Does an ESTA last?
An ESTA is valid for two years from the date of issue. More Information
Can Someone Else Apply for an ESTA on My Behalf and Vice Versa?
Yes. Another person may apply for you. However, you will be held accountable for any misinformation in the application. Hence, it’s advised that you make your own ESTA application.
How Do I Renew My ESTA?
Existing ESTA cannot be extended. So when your travel authorisation expires, you must reapply and get a fresh approval before you can visit the United States again without a visitor’s visa.
Why Was My ESTA Application Denied?
The US Customs and Border Protection, for security/privacy laws, does not state why an ESTA was denied. Here are, however, some of the common reasons for unauthorised travels to the US under the VWP.
- You overstayed on your previous visit to the US.
- You engaged in unauthorised work on your previous visit to the US.
- Your answer to a VWP eligibility question suggested you are not eligible.
- You applied with a passport number you initially reported lost.
- You were previously denied admission into the US under the VWP or visitor’s visa.
What if There’s a Mistake in My Approved ESTA application?
You can correct the address of where you will stay in the US during your travel and your email address. Beyond that, you will need to apply for a new ESTA.
How Long Can I Stay in the US with an ESTA?
With an ESTA, you can stay in the US for no more than 90 days.
How Many Trips to the US Can I Make with a Valid ESTA?
So far as your ESTA is still valid, you can make as many trips to the US as you want without a visitor’s visa.
What If My Valid ESTA Will Expire Before I Complete My Ninety-or-less-day Stay in the US?
If your ESTA expires before you leave the US, you do not need to reapply. But your subsequent travel to the country will need a new travel authorisation.
Do I need to Travel to the US with My ESTA Documents?
Typically, the US border officials will have your ESTA’s electronic record. However, your airline may request for a printout. Therefore, we advise that you print and take your ESTA authorisation with you on your travel.
Does an Approved ESTA Guarantee an Entry into the US?
An approved ESTA only certifies your eligibility to enter the US under the VWP. It, however, doesn’t guarantee an entry, as the US Customs and Border Protection officers at your entry port will inspect you to verify your eligibility under the VWP and to make sure you aren’t inadmissible for any reason under the United States law.
If you are found inadmissible, you will be returned to your country.
What are the Improvements to the VWP under the Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015?
For a national of one of the countries under the VWP, your eligibility to apply for or use an ESTA is revoked under the 2015 Act if:
- You are also a national of Syria, Sudan, Iraq, or Iran.
- You have travelled to or been in Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, or Iran on or after March 1, 2011.
Also, you must have an e-passport in order to use the VWP.
Are There Any Exceptions to the Changes?
Yes. You may qualify for a waiver if you:
- Visited Iran genuinely on business after the conclusion of the July 2015’s Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
- If you travelled to Iraq genuinely on business.
- If you travelled to Syria, Iraq, Sudan, or Iran to cover a news report or on an official service to a humanitarian NGO, a sub-national government, an international organisation, or a regional organisation.