The USA Visa Waiver Program and the ESTA

iVisa | Updated on Jul 07, 2022

Please note that as of June 2022 the CDC no longer requires travelers to present a negative COVID-19 test or documentation of recovery from COVID pre arrival to the US

As you may already know, the USA has a Visa Waiver Program, which means that the citizens of the countries that are in the program can travel to the United States without a visa. However, they still need to apply for a travel document called ESTA. Lucky for you, if you are eligible, you can apply online for an ESTA, and the document can be obtained in as little as 6 hours if you apply with

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How to obtain an ESTA online

The online application process is pretty simple. The first thing you have to do is to make sure that you have everything you need. Fortunately, a ESTA does not require much. You must provide the following:

  • Passport – you must hold a valid electronic passport with a digital chip that contains your biometric info. At the same time, the passport needs to be valid for at least another 6 months from the date of arrival in the United States.
  • E-mail address – the US ESTA arrives via e-mail, which is why you must have a valid e-mail address to which you have access. Once sends you the ESTA, do not forget to print out at least one physical copy of the document.
  • Means of payment – the payment must be made during the online application process, which is why you must have a method of online payment. accepts credit and debit cards, but you can also use PayPal, Alipay, or WeChat; whichever you find most convenient.

After you ensure that you have all of the above, you can move on and fill in the application form. That is not challenging either. Most people spend about 20 minutes on the form, and if you need any help with it, has excellent customer support. The service is available non-stop and is free of charge.

The application form consists of three easy steps. Step number one requires you to fill in the blanks with your personal information such as name, address, date of birth, and so on. Passport info and details about your trip are required as well. The same step will ask you to choose a processing time for your application. You are given three options and each of them has its own cost. Here is what you can opt for:

  • Standard processing time – This is the slowest option. Your application is processed within 2 days from submission, and you will be charged just $29.
  • Rush processing time – if you are looking to get your US ESTA sooner than 48 hours, the Rush option guarantees that you have your document in 12 hours. The cost this time is $59.
  • Super Rush processing time – since this is the fastest option you have at hand, it is the most expensive as well. You will be charged $79, but you can have your ESTA in as little as 6 hours.

During the second step of the application form, you must make the payment and revise the previous step. The revision is of the utmost importance because any mistake can render your US ESTA invalid. Read the form a few times before you proceed to the next step.

Lastly, you must upload supporting documents. That should not be very hard, especially if you are not asked for additional documents. Once you are done with all three steps, you can submit your application. There is nothing left for you to do but wait for the [US ESTA] to arrive in your e-mail inbox.

The bottom line is that as long as you travel under the USA Visa Waiver Program, you need an ESTA if you go to the United States by air or by sea. The document is valid for 2 years since issue or until your passport expires; whichever happens first. The ESTA ensures multiple entries, and you can stay in the US for no more than 90 days per visit.

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