The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a great way for citizens of a Visa Waiver Program (VWP) to be authorized to come to the US without a visa. In place since 12th January 2009, the ESTA program helps VWP natives to come to the US under a simplified process. It is preferred for a traveler to apply for ESTA USA as soon as he/she commences planning for a trip. While the actual approval happens within minutes, it might sometimes be delayed for as much as 72 hours. Since ESTA approval is needed at the time of entering the US border or airport, it is recommended to go for an approval as soon as possible.
What happens if ESTA is not present?
A traveler coming from one of the 38 VWP nations has to have an approval for ESTA USA. If this is not the case, then the person may have to turn back and will not be granted entry on US soil. He/ she may even be denied boarding a carrier traveling to the US. If a person who is a citizen of a VWP country embarks from a non-VWP country, then too the person needs to have a valid ESTA authorization.
If a person is eligible to apply for an ESTA USA but still hasn’t done till the day of the flight, there is no need to panic. It is advised to apply as soon as possible. In a majority of the cases, the approval comes in within minutes of submitting the ESTA application.
Right to entry – An important consideration
Many travelers may confuse ESTA USA approval with an authority to enter US. However, this is not the case always. ESTA does help ease the screening process at US Customs and Border Patrol stations, but it doesn’t give the right to enter US. Having an ESTA approval simply means that the traveler can board a carrier to visit the US.
The right to admission to US territory is solely under the jurisdiction of the CBP officials. This means that it might happen that even if a person has a valid ESTA approval, he/ she might still be asked to turn back if the CBP official has a reason to disallow entry. This works just like the case of visa where a valid visa doesn’t automatically guarantee entry to the US.
To sign off, it is worth noting that ESTA approvals happen online only and that too from just one website. It makes total sense to visit the website to apply for ESTA USA, follow the instructions to answer the necessary questions, and receive approvals before boarding the flight to US.
For more information about the ESTA Application Process please click Here