What is Esta All About?

What is Esta? It stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This is a required form of authorization for nationals or citizens of the Visa Waiver Program to enter the United States. It is obtained by using a web-based system run by ESTA.

Details are provided by US Customs and Border Patrol. It states that the system will automatically determine if passengers can enter the country. The sooner a person applies the better although there is no rule about applying and there being a deadline. Typically, 72 hours is ideal.

The ESTA does not determine if a traveler can stay in the United States. It is not a visa and it is not a form of a visa. It only determines if a person is allowed to enter the country for travel. The application is filled out online. A person enters some biographic details and the ESTA system does the rest.

This was developed after the 9/11 Commission recommended this procedure to help reduce travel security risks. If anyone is a national of a VWP country and they want to travel to the US for pleasure or for business they must apply for the ESTA before boarding an airplane or another form of transportation.

Adults must obtain their own ESTA and any children no matter their age must also be approved individually. If the child is a minor and traveling alone, an adult or legal guardian can submit an ESTA application for them.

Once the ESTA is approved it remains on file until the person’s passport expires or until other such time when it is discarded from the computer system.

What is ESTA for working in the US? It does not give a person the right to work. If a person holds a valid Visa, they still have to obtain an authorization but they can live and work as deemed by that Visa.