Travelers can apply for travel authorization and enroll in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, known as ESTA Program before they enter the United States.
This allows them to stay for 90 days or less without the need for a visa.
Whether you are planning a vacation or a short business trip, if you are not a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident, then you will generally need to apply for a visa to enter and legally stay in the United States.
If you are only hoping to see a few sites, visit some friends, or go to a business conference, however, there is a good news, you may be able to enter through the Visa Waiver Program, or VWP.
Let’s look at possible reasons to travel under the “Visa Waiver Program.”
You can enroll in the Visa Waiver Program if you are planning to transit through the United States to another country.
Other activities you can do through the Visa Waiver Program include:
TOURISM ACTIVITIES such as a vacation, visiting friends or relatives, medical treatment, social events, participation in musical or sports events, if you are not being paid to participate and enrolling in a short recreational course, for example, a cooking class.
BUSINESS ACTIVITIES such as consulting with business associates, attending a scientific, educational or professional conference, short-term training where you are not paid by a U.S.-based source, negotiating a contract.
Entering the United States through the Visa Waiver Program does not authorize you to work or study if you decide to stay long term.
If you want to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program, you must meet all the following requirements to be eligible:
1. You are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Country;
2. You are applying to stay in the United States for 90 days or less;
3. You are traveling to the United States for business or tourism
4. You will also need an e-passport to participate in the VWP.
*An e-passport has an electronic chip embedded in it that give your
document extra security.
Before you travel to the United States, you must enroll in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Program. You can do this online through a secure website run by the Department of Homeland Security and CBP.
To apply you will need a valid passport from a Visa Waiver Program Country, a valid e-mail address, your home address and your telephone number; the phone number and e-mail of an emergency contact, you can pay for your ESTA online with your credit card or Paypal.If you have a Global Entry ID number or a point of contact in the United States, you have to enter that information too.
You can apply for ESTA as soon as you know you have plans to come to the United States.
The ESTA is valid for 2 years, or until your passport expires whichever comes first. You can use for multiple trips.