Online Visa Application Required for Entry to USA

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ESTA – Electronic System for Travel Authorisation
Visitors may be aware that the USA is changing its entry procedures for travellers to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program and has introduced ESTA. This programme is voluntary until Jan 12th 2009 at which point, online completion will become mandatory for all Visa Waiver Programme travellers to the USA.

The old I-94 system for entry into the USA is decades old and an important reason behind the changeover is to bring the program into the 21st century, automate the procedure and, wherever possible, get rid of the paper. There are also other obvious benefits for visitors in that once ESTA is fully implemented you will no longer have to fill in an I-94W form every time that you enter the USA. It also means that travellers will know before they leave their country of origin / arrival in the country-region, that they should be OK for entry (but not guaranteed). Leaving the green departure record accidentally on departure in the traveller’s passport also becomes a problem of the past. Also, currently there is no fee involved.

US Government Legislation. This new system has been mandated by US Government legislation, following 9/11 and is very much based on a similar system called ETA that has been working successfully in Australia for some years.
ESTA applications should be submitted as soon as travel arrangements are made. It is recommended that the application is submitted at least 72 hours before departure, however the system will accommodate last minute travel. You can apply directly from the ESTA site or Submit an ESTA application here

Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits:Clappstar

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About Author

Sandra Conreen

Sandra has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years and has gained an extensive knowledge of the cruise industry. Sandra regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog on a wide range of topics from destination guides to cruise line news.

1 Comment

  1. Great post. What I think should be mentioned is that there are some websites charging for ESTA applications. While sometimes it is easier to apply through them and you can count on some help for the money you pay (quite a good example is www estavisaapplication co.uk), there are also some really dodgy ones charging up to $250, which is just a rip-off… and not only that, some will only sell 'information packs' and not even process your ESTA application! So be careful