Do I need a Visa for the USA? I have answered your question and simplified the process on how to do it in this quick and easy to follow post.
As an Australian, New Zealand or UK resident, you are able to visit America under the Visa Waiver Program, along with 34 other nationalities.
Also known as an ESTA, the program allows you to enter the USA as a tourist for stays under ninety days if you meet requirements.
How do I apply?
The process is simple and will take you less than five minutes to apply online here. The current cost is $14USD.
The link I included above is to the official site. If you are googling an ESTA yourself and do not use the link, make sure you end up at the official site.
There are a lot of questionable sites out there that charge additional processing fees on top. If a site is charging you more than $14USD it is not the official site.
How long does approval take?
Once you have completed the ESTA and made payment you will notice it says pending authorization.
Once approved, you will NOT be notified. I recommend logging out and logging back in, in 15 to 30 minutes as the status should then have changed to approved.
Still on pending after three days? Head to the contact details at the bottom of the ESTA site to query the status.
When should I apply?
Apply one to two months prior to travel, allowing time to apply manually in case it is declined. Whilst this is rare, it can happen. Obtaining an appointment with the embassy can take weeks, sometimes months.
The ESTA site recommends applying no later than 72 hours prior to travel.
Booking last minute? I have seen same-day approvals but do not recommend banking on this. Apply for your ESTA before you book flights to ensure it is approved.
Already booked but your ESTA has been declined? You may have to change your travel plans at your own cost while you wait for an appointment if you can not get one before your intended travel date.
Where can I check my status?
On the same page found here, there is a section near the top of the page titled ‘check ESTA status’. Click on that to check your individual status or check group status if you have applied as a family.
How long is my ESTA valid?
Validity is two years from the date of approval. If your passport expires in under two years you will need to apply for a new ESTA with your next passport.
You can visit multiple times within those two years as long as each stay is under ninety days.
What if I don’t meet the requirements?
Had your ESTA declined or fell short of the requirements? Apply online to make an appointment with your local US embassy.
Make sure you allow yourself a couple of months if you have to do this. There is usually a long wait to get a timeslot.
Can I stay for longer than 90 days?
Simply put, No, not on an ESTA.
If you are visiting for tourism purposes you will need to leave the continent and re-enter to start another 90-day visit.
It is really important to note that time spent in Canada, Mexico and adjacent islands counts towards your 90 days. This means that you can’t pop over to any of these countries and then try to re-enter. You will need to travel off the continent and then come back.
Written from my personal experience with the Visa Waiver Program. I’m a travel agent who has been sending clients to America for the past eleven years. Along with my own travel in and around America.
I do not guarantee, and accept no legal liability, for the accuracy, reliability, currency or completeness of any material on wildheartedworld.com or any linked sites.
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