ESTA requirements to recognize in order to get through the process quickly and successfully
If you are going to be traveling to the United States anytime soon from an international point of departure you want to fully understand the ins and outs of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).
Essentially a streamlined, 100% online platform that allows you to know totally in advance whether or not you are going to be able to travel to the United States without having to go through the visa process (or if you’re able to travel to the US through the visa waiver program), the odds are pretty good that you’ll need a valid ESTA approval if you’re going to be visiting the United States in the near future.
While the process can sound pretty complex and convoluted on the surface, thankfully it’s relatively simple and straightforward to move through in practice.
Below we break down some of the core aspects of the ESTA, ESTA requirements you’ll need to meet, and how you can expedite the process so that it is as quick and as painless as possible.
Let’s day right in!
ESTA Application 101
For starters, it’s important to understand that the ESTA application process is 100% available online and is a digital process that will take about 10 minutes from start to finish.
You can find the ESTA application here and can start moving through the process right now, this very minute, if you are so inclined. You’ll also be happy to learn that the process is secure and locked down so that your personal and private information (including passport details) will never be at risk as you move through this electronic application process.
Before you start to go through this process, however, you’re going to want to make sure that you have a couple of documents and details ready to go and close at hand.
For starters, you’ll need a valid passport to even begin the ESTA application. Not only does the passport have to be valid at the time of your application, but it also has to remain valid throughout the duration of your ESTA validity.
If you’re passport expires in the middle of that ESTA validity period that you are applying for you will find that your application expires instantly and automatically at that point.
Secondly, you’ll need identifying documents (including something like a driver’s license) to double verify your identity as you move through the program. Questions will be asked about every individual traveling to the United States through this ESTA process in your party, including young children and newborns.
You’ll need to provide details regarding your contact information, your date of birth, your place of birth, etc. The ESTA application also asks questions about the names of your parents and some details about your family. These bits and pieces of information are used to verify your identity and to do a deeper security check to make sure that you are eligible for the ESTA program.
After you begin to move through this part of the ESTA requirements process you’ll be asked to input data points directly from your passport.
You’ll be asked questions in regards to your passport number, the date that it was issued as well as its expiration date, and the details regarding the country it was issued from. You’ll then be asked if you are a citizen of any other nation around the world, whether or not you have a second passport, and details regarding that secondary passport if you answer in the affirmative.
If you do have a secondary passport you can increase your chances of getting through the visa waiver program via ESTA. As long as one of these passports are eligible you should be able to apply for – and be granted – ESTA approval.
The next part of the ESTA application form is going to revolve around contact details for the people you’d like to be contacted if there is an emergency while in the United States. The ESTA application does make a point to recommend that you use someone located in the United States if possible (if only to streamline the logistics of getting help during an emergency), but if you do not have an individual in the US you can certainly leave contact information from someone back home as well.
Once you go through the basics of the application process we highlighted above you’re now going to be asked a number of questions regarding your overall employment status.
You are going to be asked to provide details about any current and previous employers you may have worked for or worked with, as well as information (including contact information) regarding those places of employment.
You’ll also be asked questions regarding your job title, job description, or position at that place of employment as well. Some of these employment questions are marked as optional, but if you want to improve your odds of having your ESTA approved it’s a good idea to provide just as much information as possible before moving onto the next section.
National Security Questions
The United States (understandably) takes their security very seriously, and some of the questions you find in this next section may at first feel a little bit intense and a little bit intrusive – but they are questions that need to be answered as honestly and as completely as possible if you are to gain entry into the United States.
If you knowingly or unknowingly lie on the ESTA application you may find that your access to the United States is revoked completely, including up to the moment that you arrive at the US border even after being granted prior approval to enter.
You’ll be asked questions about your medical history, including any diseases and disorders that you may possibly bring into the country – particularly those that could be contagious. Questions about your criminal history (or lack thereof) will be asked as well in this section.
Further questions regarding drug use, drug possession, and drug distribution will be asked, and then you’ll be asked about whether or not you’ve ever been involved in any terrorist activities – including sabotage, genocide, and espionage.
As highlighted above, these questions can get pretty intense but it’s important that you answer them truthfully, honestly, and completely to be granted access to the US.
The rest of this section is going to entail questions regarding whether or not you’ve been employed in the United States previously, whether or not you have applied for ESTA in the past, and whether or not that request was approved or declined.
The final question in this section is going to revolve around whether you previously overstayed the amount of time you were granted in the United States by the government. ESTA grants the ability to travel to the US for no longer than 90 days and if you have overstayed your welcome previously the odds are good that you will not be allowed back in through this program.
As we highlighted above, the entire process from start to finish should take you about 10 minutes to complete. This is especially true if you have all of your travel documents on hand and can answer these questions completely, honestly, and truthfully.
At the end of the day, the US is welcoming to as many people as they can accommodate. The ESTA program is put forward to help streamline the visa waiver program as much as possible. You can always contact the ESTA support team 24 hours a day if you have more questions or like help filling out the application.