What is ESTA and How to Obtain It

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization, which is also known as ESTA, is an automated system that helps determine eligibility for individuals to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and if travel may pose a security or law enforcement risk. Once a VWP traveler completes an ESTA, they will be notified of their eligibility to travel to the U.S.

Applying for ESTA

To apply, you must fill out an application, which will require some biographic information, including your VWP eligible passport, your current or previous employer, a valid email address, your address, and a point of contact in the U.S. You must also answer some security questions. Generally, updates to an ESTA application take about 72 hours, which you can easily access online. If it is approved, you will be authorized to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. However, travel authorization does not necessarily mean you will be admitted to the country. A U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer at the port of entry will have the final say.

If you are not authorized to travel, it only means you cannot enter the country through the Visa Waiver Program. You may still be able to apply for a visa through the Department of State for your travels.

Who Can Submit an Application?

Not everyone can apply for ESTA.

You are eligible to apply for admission under the VWP if:

  • You intend to enter the U.S. for 90 days or less for transit, business, or pleasure
  • You have a valid passport that was lawfully issued by a VWP country
  • You arrive through a VWP signatory carrier
  • You have an onward or return ticket
  • Traveling will not terminate in adjacent islands or contiguous territory unless you are a resident of those areas
  • You are a citizen of a VWP country
  • You establish that you are permitted to be admitted under VWP and that you are not barred under the Immigration and Nationality Act
  • You do not pose a threat to the safety, health, welfare, or safety of the U.S.
  • You complied with all conditions of previous admissions under the VWP

Reach Out to Our Law Firm for the Legal Guidance You Need

If you are applying for ESTA or need assistance after your application was not authorized, the legal team at Guerra Sáenz, PL can provide the advice and guidance you need to navigate this process.

Call our legal team today at (954) 466-0323 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss the details of your case.