Apply online for your travel visa

With the reopening of borders throughout the world, it can be a little confusing to know what is currently needed for travel and what is required. If you are travelling to the USA, there are quite a few options available to travellers. Depending on your reason for travel, different visas might be preferable over others. In general, if you are simply visiting the USA as a tourist or for a blend of business meetings, conferences and tourism, the ESTA is usually the easiest travel authorisation to apply for.

What is an ESTA?

The ESTA application is a simplified travel authorisation available to most travellers from the United Kingdom and the EU. You can apply for an ESTA online, and US Customs and Border Protection will perform a rudimentary background check to assess whether you can be approved for travel. An ESTA is a digital travel authorisation, it is not actually a paper document. It is connected digitally to your passport, and your airline and airport security can use your passport number to confirm you have a valid ESTA for travel.

ESTA requirements and rules

There are a few rules to keep in mind when applying for your ESTA. The first is the reason for travel. If you are travelling for tourism, visiting family and friends, or attending a conference or business meetings. When it comes to work, as long as you are being paid by a party outside the US, then it qualifies as a business trip, which is allowed with an ESTA.

Most travellers will easily meet the ESTA requirements. There have been a few changes in the rules over the past years. Some of these rules include the following:

If you have been to Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, North Korea or Sudan after 10 March 2011, or if you have ever held the nationality of these countries, unfortunately you cannot currently apply for an ESTA.

· If you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021, you will no longer be eligible for an ESTA.

In both of these situations, it is still possible to apply for a tourist visa. In which case, it is recommended to account for extra time before travelling.

ESTA Validity

Your ESTA is linked to your passport, which means that your passport must be valid for the entire length of your stay in the US. In most cases, the ESTA will be valid for 2 years, but if your passport expires in less than 2 years, then your ESTA will be valid until the date of expiry of your passport.

Once you have an ESTA, you can enter the US as often as you’d like, as long as you leave before the expiry of the ESTA. Each stay can be for a maximum of 90 days. If you wish to stay in the US for longer than 90 days, then you must apply for a different tourist visa.

Transits through the USA

If you are simply transiting through the USA, you are still required to have an ESTA. If you are travelling with a layover in any part of the US, including Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico or Guam, then you must also have a valid ESTA.

The good news is that even if you apply for an ESTA for a transit, you can still use the ESTA later as long as it is still valid to travel to the US for tourism. The initial reason for travel is simply to help Customs and Border Protection to understand the reason for your visit, but you can use the ESTA afterwards to travel to the USA.

Application form

For most travellers, the application form is basic and straightforward. Some of the added benefits is with the ESTA application form, you can make a group application for family and friends, which makes the application process easier. Most of the information only has to be filled in once, and the additional traveller information becomes more simplified.

The group application can even be done for travellers who do not live in the same household. As long as all the travellers in the group application live in the same country, the form can be filled out by one traveller on behalf of the other travellers.

The form itself only takes a few moments to fill in, and once the applications are all approved, you can enjoy your holiday in the USA.