ESTA Requirements for Visa Waiver Citizens

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization allows any & every person who qualifies to enter the United States for approved government reasons.

The Department of Homeland Security has created a list of requirements that travelers who wish to travel abroad under the Visa Waiver Program need to meet in order to be eligible. The following is the complete list of ESTA requirements:

ESTA Eligibility Requirements

  • Participants must be citizens of one of the participating countries. These include Australia, Austria, Denmark, Belgium, France, Germany, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, the United Kingdom, and many more. You can find the complete list on our home page.
  • Passports must be current. All passports that qualify must also be valid for at least the duration of the trip and have an expiration date greater than the intended stay.
  • All passports must be ePassports, or modern passports with a digital chip. The ePassports used must be able to be read by standard digital passport readers. Examine the inside front cover to see if it is compatible. Passports with electronic chips have the e-Passport symbol at the bottom. Those without this chip cannot board an aircraft or travel to the United States.

Travel restrictions and approved terms

  • ESTA US primarily applies to people visiting the United States on a short-term trip of three months or less. If you plan to stay longer than three months, there are other options available that will grant you permanent residency.
  • The reasons that can be used for travel include tourism, visiting family and friends, attending corporate events, medical reasons, or completing a short period of academic study, but not one that is officially accredited. Alternative visa arrangements are required for those who wish to complete a degree at a US University or Specialty School.
  • ESTA doesn’t grant international travelers any domestic rights while they are in the country. ESTA does not grant domestic workers rights to international travelers. But those who are looking for a job in the country must explore long-term alternatives.

How to apply for ESTA and meet ESTA requirements

Online applications for ESTA are required to be submitted through the official website. These forms can be completed by individuals with the help of approved travel agencies and companies.

Applicants are often required to show substantial financial evidence. It is to ensure that visitors will be able to sustain themselves while on their trip.

Most people can complete the forms in less than 20 minutes. Before any application can be processed, a $21 processing ESTA charge will need to be paid. Travelers should be aware that third-party assistants often charge more than $21 for processing services.

The US Travel Authorities request that the application be submitted at least 72 hours before the departure date. The purpose of this is to make sure that any issues can be resolved before travel.

ESTA requirements about arrival limitations

  • Anyone traveling to the US under ESTA must have a return or departure ticket before arrival.
  • If border officers or agents ask for proof of travel, travelers must carry their return or departure tickets and any documentation with them.
  • Some additional forms need to be filled out by those who enter from Canada or Mexico. Visitors will also be required to submit a completed I-94W.

Conditions of Ineligibility

  • Occasionally, potential travelers may not be allowed to fly even if all ESTA requirements are met. It can be for various reasons, such as past criminal records and specific medical issues. This can be due to visa abuse or prior deportations from the US.
  • The same may apply to guests who visited Yemen, Iran, or Somalia during or after March 1, 2011, or if they traveled through North Korea, Iraq, or Libya.
  • Those with dual nationality from Iran, Iraq, or Syria, for example, are not eligible to participate in the program.

You may still have options if you don’t meet the abovementioned criteria. You are responsible for researching the various travel and visa options available.

You will need to apply for an alternative visa if you want to stay in the United States longer than your ESTA allows, obtain a college education, or work as a member of the United States.

Applicants who were denied the ESTA application can apply for any other visa option available. In general, applicants who receive a denial will also be sent instructions and options for traveling to the US.