In the summer of 2016, I embarked on an adventure to the United States, with the ESTA. For those of you that don’t know what an ESTA is, it basically allows you to travel to the U.S. without a visa for up to 90 days per trip.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to travel the United States. When I was a little kid, I always dreamt of travelling down route 66 in a convertible. Thankfully, this dream was made into a reality in the summer of 2016.
I organised a trip that involved twelve major locations around the U.S. including New York City, Chicago, Yosemite, San Diego and all of this was possible due to the ESTA. Before I left for the United States, a friend told me to research ESTA. I, like many others, thought that you needed a visa to travel to the U.S. however, now I know it’s not true.
There is a programme called the Visa Waiver Programme and it allows citizens of 38 countries (yes 38) the ability to travel to the U.S. without a visa. Those eligible can travel to there on a business or tourism trip for up to 90 days per visit. The beauty of this, it costs $14 only. If the ESTA is rejected, the applicant will only be charged $4. You can apply for the ESTA at the official site.
ESTA isn’t just for those with business or tourism purposes, actually, there is another reason to have this resource. Basically, anybody that has a connecting flight that involves the U.S. needs an ESTA too. Unfortunately, if you land in the U.S. you’re classed as entering the country, therefore, you need an ESTA.
The ESTA is valid for two years, which is perfect if I decide to travel back to the U.S before summer 2018. That means I would not need to complete the ESTA form again until then. The ESTA application takes about 30 minutes to complete by the way. The process is completed online. That’s another great aspect, you no longer need to attend an embassy visit. After you have completed the application, you receive an email within 72 hours, confirming if you have been accepted or not. Although, this email can take minutes to arrive.
Information that I didn’t know when I arrived at the States that I think you should know include: When you get to the airport, you may or may not have to declare where you’re intending to travel to. So, be sure to have an itinerary mapped out where possible. Furthermore, at the airport, I was asked to provide evidence that I could fully support myself the whole duration of my stay. Which luckily I could prove, as I have an Internet banking app on my phone.
Other useful information includes… if the ESTA application is rejected, you will have to apply for a conventional visa.
Finally, even if your ESTA is accepted, you may still be denied entry into the U.S. at the airport, as the border officials have the final say on who can or cannot enter the country.