The ESTA application is a Visa-Waiver system that qualifies you for US travel and is done completely online.
The need to fill out the old I-94W paper has been completely replaced by the ESTA visa and is no longer needed. The ESTA form must be completed online before your travels and lets you know beforehand whether or not you have been granted access into the country.
If My ESTA Visa Is Approved, Will I Be Guaranteed Entry?
Having a pre-approved ESTA visa does not necessarily guarantee you will be allowed into the country, it simply means you have been allowed ‘travel’ to the country.
The US Border officer will ultimately have the final decision of whether or not you are allowed into the country.
What’s the chances of my ESTA form submission being rejected?
It is unlikely that your ESTA application will be rejected unless you fall into the category of reasons for visa rejections. Some reasons why a visa can be rejected include things like overstaying when you previously visited, having a criminal record, etc.
What’s the ESTA Application Steps?
To get your ESTA visa you will need to complete and submit the application online and pay for the submission. You will then be given an ESTA application number and you can view the status of your application online.
You want to do this before you book your holiday to the US, so that you avoid the headache and financial loss if you find out your application has been rejected.
The ESTA form is quick and simple to complete and shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes or so. You can in some cases find out right away if you have been accepted or rejection, but if not then you need to check your application status online a few days later.
Although the ESTA visa is valid for 2 years, if your passport expires 1 year after getting your ESTA then your ESTA will only be valid for 1 year. So basically the moment your passport runs out then your ESTA immediately becomes invalid.
Make Note of Your ESTA Number
As well as noting down your ESTA number, it would be a good idea to also print off the confirmation page. You may need to present this at check in, even though you do not need to show this to the customs officer.
There is No Offline ESTA Application Form
Unfortunately, the ESTA application is done completely online, so there is no offline paper application alternative.
Although most people have internet access today, the elderly may need to get assistance when applying online.
There is No ESTA Renewal System
When your ESTA visa (or passport) has expired, there is no ESTA Renewal, you basically need to re-apply for a brand new ESTA, just the same as you did the first time. This also means paying the application fees again!
Once you apply for a new ESTA you will get a brand-new reference number and expiry date.
Don’t Travel into the US with an ESTA Visa
You may be rejected when trying to board your plane if you attempt to travel without an ESTA or if your ESTA visa was rejected. Even if you are unable to apply for your ESTA yourself, say if you are elderly or have a disability, then someone else can apply on your behalf.
It’s a good idea to allow a minimum of 3 days when applying for your ESTA.
If you have already booked your holiday to the US and then later find out that your ESTA application has been rejected, then you will also be subject to the loss of fees you paid for your holiday. It is not likely that your Travel Insurance will cover you for this.
If My ESTA application Is Rejected, What Can I Do?
If your ESTA application is rejected then you can go to a US Embassy and apply for a non-immigrant visa.
The only time an ESTA is not needed is when you are travelling by land from Mexico or Canada.