Going on a business trip to the US? You may need an ESTA to do that. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a fully automated, electronic system for screening passengers before they begin travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). For that, you will first need to determine if your country is one of the VWP countries wherein their citizens are allowed to travel to the US for business and tourism without a visa for stays up to 90 days. You can learn more about properly filing an ESTA application below.

Prepare The Necessary Requirements

A good applicant must come prepared with the necessary requirements. The ESTA USA application requirements may seem daunting at first, but they are actually easy to prepare. The following requirements are what you will need to have ready:

  • A valid passport from a VWP country. Prepare a copy of your passport saved on your hard disk just in case needed.

  • A credit card with enough balance. You’ll need to pay $14 USD processing fee

  • A definite travel date

  • Address of a place where you will stay during your trip

  • Address of a place of contact inside the U.S.

  • An active mail address with a mailbox to which you have full access

Is A Lawyer Needed for the Visa Waiver Program and ESTA?

It is best to seek assistance and advice from an immigration attorney if you are planning to apply under the Visa Waiver Program. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you determine your eligibility for the program in advance as VWP is strict in its requirements. If you are denied your ESTA travel authorization, you can also turn to an immigration lawyer for other options in gaining entrance to the US. However, it is recommended to seek legal advice prior to your ESTA or visa application so that more in-depth assistance and a wider scope of options can be given.

Filling Up The ESTA Application Form

The ESTA application form can be filled up online through the website of US Customs and Border Protection.

The process is easy to follow and has specific rules and regulations which you need to carefully read through. You can click on the buttons on “New Application” and proceed with choosing the application for a single person (“Individual Application”) or a group of persons (“Individual Application”)

Answer the Disclaimers

To start the filing, an ESTA applicant must carefully read all the terms and conditions of the disclaimers. The DHS (Department of Homeland Security) succinctly states in the disclaimer that all entered data, activities and behavior in general while visiting the website will be monitored. Thus, take due caution and take time to read and understand the terms and conditions before proceeding to the next step.

Enter Applicant and Personal Information

Caution and diligence should be maintained throughout the application process. This is to ensure that the correct information is inputted in the form. The basic information should include the following:

  • Family name

  • Given name

  • Gender

  • Alias(es)

  • Date of birth

  • City of birth

  • Country of birth.

After you have added the personal information, you can proceed adding the passport information, which includes the following:

  • Passport number

  • Issue date

  • Expiration date

  • Country of citizenship

  • Country of issue

  • National Identification Number

  • Personal Identification Number

Once done, you will proceed to other forms to be filled up, such as Other Citizenship/Nationality (if applicable), GE membership, Parents’ names, contact information, Social media (optional) and Employment information

Enter Travel Information

Another important information you need to add will be the details about your travel. You will be required to answer about your transit to another country, your US point of contact information, address of stay in the US and emergency contact numbers within and outside of the US.

Answer Eligibility Questions

This is the final part of the ESTA application process. You will be required to answer very sensitive information. These questions would be concerning about diseases, criminal convictions, drug abuse, terrorism, etc. You should answer “no” in order to get approved, but this should be answered truthfully. In most cases, CBP will be able to determine if you answered truthfully. Lying about an eligibility question can result in a travel ban.

Review Application and Payment

After you have completed filling up the forms, it’s time to review the application. Always double-check on important data, such as your name, date of birth, citizenship/nationality, passport details and contact details (especially your email address).

passport

After you have validated your data, you will be required to pay a processing fee. Mark check the disclaimer box and click the “Pay now” option. Select your payment method and click “Proceed”. Please note that your application will not be reviewed until you successfully paid the processing fee.

If your ESTA application gets approved, print out a copy of the approval and bring it with you when you travel to the US.