Traveling to Los Angeles under the Visa Waiver Program
Some people are still under confusion when it comes to differentiating between an ESTA and a Visa. Well, if you are among these people, don’t worry. In this article, we shall focus on a few things that would help you clear the air on this matter once and for all. We will talk about the process involved and how the ESTA works. This document usually helps in making your traveling easier. However, many people how the program works and how to go about it. Anyway, before applying, here are a few things that you should know.
- An ESTA isn’t a Visa
This is simply an electronic system for travel authorization. When your application gets approved, this means you can be able to travel to the US without having a Visa. This happens only when the information you gave pass the automatic vetting process. If your details goes through, you will be given permit to travel to the USA. This is not a Visa. Applying for a Visa usually takes a long period of time to get processed. On the other hand, ESTA application can be done online and you will have your results whether approved or not within 24 hours of applying in your email.
- Valid for 2 years once approved
This is another difference between an ESTA and a Visa. An ESTA will only last for up to 4 years unlike the visa. The 2 year period will start to be counted immediately after you receive your email of approval. However, your ESTA can also expire if your passport expires too. This is why it is important to apply for the ESTA when you still have like 2 more years remaining in your passport. Unlike some other types of traveling documents, an ESTA can’t be extended even if you are in the US. As long as you keep the 90 days period in mind, it won’t matter even if it expires when you are leaving the US.
- 90 days period
The ESTA only allows the travelers to stay in the US for a period of 90 days each time they visit. Well, not the difference. The 2 year period of which your ESTA will be eligible starts to cunt on the day you get the approval email while your 90 days period will start only after you arrive in the USA. You will not be allowed to continue staying after the 90 days period has elapsed. Trying to do so will only ruin your chances of being approved the next time you reapply.
- Used only for tourism and business trips
Not only are is your time limited when traveling under the waiver program, the purpose of your trip should either be for business or pleasure. Well, when I say “business purposes”, this doesn’t include traveling to look for work or traveling to work for some local employer. This means attending conferences, meetings and congresses. You can also be able to use your ESTA to travel for some reasons too including traveling to see treatments or even to attend educational course which might take up to 3 months or even less. Any other reason might not be approved.
- The responses
When applying for an ESTA, there are only three possible answers that you will receive. After submitting al your application details, a response showing your status of approval is always given back after 24 hours of application. The response received might have one of the answers below.
- Authorization approved: this indicates that your application has been approved ad you can now start making your traveling plans. A confirmation number and a expiry dates will also be issued.
- Authorization pending: this shows that your application is still under review since a decision couldn’t be made automatically. This might take up to 72 hours for things to be sorted out.
- Not authorized: this simply means that you are not allowed to travel to the US under this program thus you might need to apply for a visa in order to travel to the USA.
Well, with these few clearances, I believe you now have a clue when it comes to differentiating between an ESTA and a visa. There are a lot more you should be knowing but the ones mentioned above are just the basics. If you are traveling under the waiver program, you won’t need to use a visa but if you are from one of the countries under the program, try applying for one. It save time and makes your traveling easier.