If you are planning a trip to the United States, or even just going through a U.S. airport on your way to somewhere else, you will need to apply for approval through their ESTA program. After all, if you are from one of the countries that do not require an American visa, you will still need ESTA approval. If you do not have it when you get there, you will be refused entry.
What is ESTA? — This is a program set up by the U.S. government called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and is a required program for anyone that does not need to apply for an American visa.
How does a typical ESTA application work? — A typical ESTA application is done on the Internet, and only takes a few minutes to complete. Before you apply for your ESTA approval, however, there are a few things you need to know about the application process itself.
What do you need to apply for an ESTA? — You will need to have your passport with you so that you can input information from it into the online ESTA system.
You will also need the names and phone numbers of both your employer and of any hotels you are booked into in the United States. If you are staying with friends or family, you will also have to have their information so that you can enter that into the ESTA system.
How much will you have to pay? — The ESTA application system is actually much cheaper than if you had to apply for a U.S. visa, as it is only $14 per application. This amount can be paid online with a credit card, and is fully non-refundable. Even if your ESTA application is rejected.
How long does it take to get approval? — If you apply for your ESTA approval on a weekday, you will usually get it within 24 hours, and often on the same day you apply for it. If you apply on a weekend, however, you could get it the same day or you may have to wait until the following Monday before you do.
What happens if you are rejected? — In most cases, you will be accepted for your ESTA. If you are rejected, you can always apply again, although you will probably receive the same rejection. That is why contacting the U.S. Embassy in your country may be a good thing to do, as they may be able to find out why you were rejected and what you will need to do to fix the situation.
If there is a chance of rejection — If you think there may be something in your background that will cause you to be rejected for the ESTA, you may want to apply for it several weeks before you need it. That way, if that ESTA rejection does happen, you will still have plenty of time to apply for a visa for the U.S. at any American embassy.