The ESTA Visa USA Registration Service
Since 2009, the Electronic System For Travel Authorization (ESTA) has been a mandatory requirement for all eligible travellers prior to their journey to the USA. While this was not designed to be a replacement for standard Visa types, it offers a faster, more secure way of ensuring all travellers to the country are safe and authorised to travel in and around the USA.
For this reason, any person travelling from the UK to the USA will need to fill out an application for an ESTA prior to embarking on travel. The ESTA visa offers a more streamlined alternative to a standard travel visa, acting as a form of pre-screening to determine the eligibility of any visitor to travel to and around the USA. It was designed to act as an enhanced security measure and for this reason, each eligible traveller will need to fill out a visa USA ESTA form before boarding any plane or boat to the US.
What Is ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is effectively an online system that provides authorisation information for the US Visa Waiver Program. Using a number of personal details, including your passport details, medical information and history, any criminal records if applicable and your previous travel history, the system will determine whether you are safe to enter the country. This system was created and is currently managed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and while we offer ESTA application check services, the final decision for eligibility rests with the US government.
What Is The US Visa Waiver Program?
The US Visa Waiver Program was introduced by the DHS to simplify the process of applying for and travelling to the US on tourism or business purposes. In some cases, other US visa programs may be required, but travellers can do the following just with an ESTA:
- Travel for business consultations
- Attend educational, professional and scientific conventions and conferences
- Attend short-term training (less than 90 days) where no payment is given by US sources (with the exception of expenses)
- Negotiation of a contract
- Visiting relatives or friends
- Medical treatment
- Social events hosted by fraternal, social or service organisations
- Amateur participation in sports, musical or other events or contests (no payment for participation will be allowed)
- Enrolment in short study courses that don’t provide credit towards a qualification
The US Government website also states that the following are not permitted on the Visa Waiver Program:
- Study (e.g. University placements)
- Permanent employment
- Working as foreign press, journalism or other information-based media
- Permanent or long-term residency in the US for over 90 days
Which Countries Are Included In The US Visa Waiver Program?
The US Visa Waiver Program applies to a select number of countries, with additional requirements that must be met to ensure eligibility. In order to be eligible for ESTA America authorisation, you must live in one of the following countries:
|Denmark||Japan||Republic of Malta||United Kingdom|
Do I Need To Apply For ESTA Visa?
On January 20th, 2010, the US put into place a legal requirement for citizens of all VWP countries to apply for the USA ESTA when travelling. Any foreign traveller looking to enter the United States will need either an ESTA or to apply for a visa for America from UK bodies. Even those who are just travelling through the USA to surrounding countries such as Canada or Mexico are required to seek ESTA US authorisation or an American visa before they travel.
The ESTA visa application is available online to ensure that all visitors can apply quickly and seamlessly before travel, providing their reason for travel is in line with ESTA USA requirements. In addition to being a citizen of the countries listed above, applicants must also:
- Intend to enter the US for no more than 90 days
- Have a valid e-passport issued by a VWP country
- Arrive via a Visa Waiver Program carrier
- Have a return/onward travel ticket
- Provide satisfactory establishment that you are entitled to be admitted under the US Visa Waiver Program.
- Not pose a threat to the health, safety, welfare or security of the US
- Comply with all terms and conditions of admission
Do Children Need An ESTA Visa?
Every traveller going to the United States will need to complete either an ESTA application or a US visa application dependant on their eligibility and reason for travel. In order to apply for and hold ESTA approval, all travellers, including children, will need their own e-passport. You will need to ensure that separate applications are submitted for every child travelling, including infants and babies.
What Is The Difference Between An ESTA And A Visa?
While an ESTA is often referred to as the ‘ESTA Visa’, it holds many legal differences and isn’t technically classed as a US visa. The ESTA visa application is a much more streamlined and arguably shorter process than when you apply for US visa in UK territories, due to the fact that it is a ‘US visa waiver’. The program was designed to provide a faster way for eligible parties to gain authorisation to enter America, preventing the need for every traveller to apply for full visas, such as a U.S Green Card or Working visa.
For this reason, it’s important to note that ESTAs are not a replacement for the standard American visa application, and those wanting to travel who may not be eligible for an ESTA will need to apply for American visa programmes. The USA ESTA does not hold the same legal requirements as a standard US visa, and those who have had their visa for America from UK bodies approved won’t need to apply for the ESTA.
When Should I Apply For My ESTA?
You can apply for ESTA registration at any point up until you board your plane or boat to the US. In most cases, the application can be processed within 5 minutes of the U.S government receiving the ESTA form, however, it’s advised that you give yourself at least 72 hours before you plan to travel to give yourself time and peace of mind. This is the maximum length of time that it will take for a decision to be made on your ESTA US Visa application, and so this will ensure you receive a response before you are due to depart.
If you are unsure of your eligibility, it’s advised that you give yourself plenty of time to submit your application, with time to submit another US visa application if necessary.
What Do I Need To Submit My ESTA Visa Application?
When you apply for US visa from the UK, you need to ensure you have the right information on hand. While we provide a full checking service to make sure that the application is in order before submission, the details you provide will need to be as accurate as possible. For the application, you will need:
- Your personal details (name, date of birth, etc)
- Your passport (and all relevant details)
- GE/CBP Global Entry Program information (If applicable)
- Parental Information
- Contact information
- Employment information
- Travel Information, including address when in the US
- Your payment card to cover the ESTA cost
There will also be a series of Yes/No questions for you to answer within your ESTA USA visa application, covering health, drug use, criminal record and previous visa application details.
How Much Does An ESTA Cost?
If you’re asking yourself How Much Does An ESTA Cost?, when applying through our ESTA application check process the ESTA visa cost will include both the visa and our checking service. Through our service, you’ll pay a fee of £64.95. This includes the cost of our full checking service, as well as the $14.00 fee from US border control. Our ESTA visa check service will include:
- ESTA Retrieval
- ESTA Application Status Updates
- Application Check Service
- Extensive ESTA Application Review
- Proofreading And Full Error Correction
- Secure Protection For All Personal Information
- Secure Online Payment
- Quick Processing Times
- 24/7 Customer Support
- Email Delivery Of The Final Decision
How Do I Start A New ESTA Application?
Starting a new US visa application UK form is simple. Once you have all the information you need, you can begin filling out the form above. The online application has streamlined the process considerably, ensuring that UK applicants will not need to visit the US Embassy to complete their US ESTA application.
The application typically only takes around 15 minutes to complete, after which we will run an ESTA visa check and amend any errors there may be throughout your application before submission. You can check the status of your application at any point using your application number, and we will provide you with email confirmation once the final decision has been made.
How Long Does ESTA Take After Application?
After submitting your application, we will run our full checking and proofreading services to ensure that your submission is correct. After we have submitted this to the US Government, we do not have control over the decision that is made, however, the decision is usually made within a few minutes of submission.
In some cases, it can be near instantaneous, but it’s important to note that during busy periods, it can take up to 72 hours to receive a response. If the status of your application appears as “Authorisation Pending”, it may be that a decision wasn’t able to be made instantly. This doesn’t mean that your application will be rejected, only that it may be reviewed where the automated system cannot do so instantly.
Do I Need An ESTA Just To Travel Through The US?
If you are travelling through the US to any of the surrounding areas or are catching a connecting flight from any American airport, you will need to ensure that you have an ESTA. Before you can even board the plane or boat to the US, border control will check your ESTA status or ask for a US visa where this is not available.
Even if you will not be leaving the airport in the US, you will still need to provide valid travel permissions. Ensuring you have an ESTA UK application completed and approved before your travel date can help to prevent any delays at the airport and ensure you make your connecting flight.
How Long Is An ESTA Valid For?
The answer to ‘How long does an ESTA last?’ is relatively simple – if or when your ESTA application is accepted, you will be provided with the validity dates to ensure you know precisely when you will need to renew your application next. Typically, the ESTA will be valid for up to two years, or until the passport, it is linked to expires dependant on which date comes first. If you are set to travel and your current ESTA is due to expire, you’ll need to ensure that it is valid for the date you arrive in the US. It can expire while you’re there but must be valid when you arrive at the port or airport for your destination.
While the ESTA is valid for up to two years, it’s important to remember that any one trip to the US can’t last more than 90 days. You will be required to apply for a new ESTA in the following cases:
- The ESTA is due to expire before you travel
- You have obtained a new passport
- You have changed your name
- You have changed your gender
- You have changed your country of citizenship/residence
- Any of your ESTA details/answers have changed
What If My ESTA Application Was Rejected?
If your American visa ESTA application was rejected, it’s important to work out why that may have been the case before you take your next steps. ESTA applicants can be rejected or ineligible for authorisation if they:
- Have been arrested
- Have a criminal record
- Have certain diseases
- Have previously been refused entry to the US
- Have been deported from the US
- Have overstayed a visa or visa waiver previously
- Have dual nationality as a VWP country citizen and a citizen of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria
- Have been to Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1st, 2011 (some exceptions may be considered, such as travelling to these countries for military or diplomatic purposes)
If you have previous criminal convictions, this may not immediately lead to a rejected application. You need to be truthful within your application to ensure that no discrepancies are found and that you are travelling legally. If the criminal conviction was relatively small, such as a minor traffic offence.
Some ESTA applications may also be rejected due to errors with the application, which is why we provide full ESTA application check services to ensure validity. If you realise an error in the information you provided us with (e.g. Spelling variations/mistakes, incorrect phone numbers etc) then you may need to send an email to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in order to have them amend this information.
Once you’ve determined the cause for rejection, you will need to apply for US Visa from UK services, dependant on your reason for travel, e.g. working visas for employment. You will be unable to appeal the US ESTA decision via a court.
Does An ESTA Guarantee Entry To The US?
While ESTA UK visas inform border control of your eligibility to travel in the US, Customs and Border Protection still reserve the right to reject your entry into America. While your ESTA for USA can speed up the process, the inspection upon arrival can still determine that you are inadmissible for any reason according to United States law.
Incorrect information on your ESTA application, fake documents or the inability to adhere to any other legal US requirement can lead to rejection. It’s also important to note that, even if your US Visa Waiver Program application is approved, you still need to adhere to the Immigration and Nationality Act requirements.
If you have a valid UK visa from USA authorities and are rejected entry on immigration grounds, you may be able to appeal this decision before an immigration judge. In some cases, you may be allowed into the country, but be asked to attend immigration offices at a later date throughout your stay.
Can I Update Information On My ESTA?
Throughout the US ESTA application process, you will be able to change any of the details in the form above, prior to submitting the application. Once this has been submitted and put through for government approval, you will be able to update the following information:
- Email Address
- Telephone Number
- Carrier Information
- Boarding City
- Address While In the United States
Any other incorrect information may require you to get in touch with the governing board to withdraw your application. We will conduct an ESTA application check to ensure that details are correct where we can, but changes to address, phone numbers and other personal details after submission will require direct contact with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
My Passport Has Changed – Is My ESTA Still Valid?
Your ESTA status is linked directly to your passport and for this reason, any existing ESTA visa will become invalid if your passport changes. Whether you lose your passport, have been sent a new one through renewal or have changed any details, you will need to complete another ESTA visa application.
Discrepancies between your passport and your ESTA will often lead to the customs officer not allowing you entry into America. For this reason, it’s advised that, after any changes to your passport information, you re-submit your application for an ESTA. It is also mandatory to resubmit your ESTA application when:
- You have obtained a new passport, whether through loss or renewal
- You have changed your name
- You have changed your gender
- You have changed your country of residence or citizenship
- Any answers to ESTA questions have changed (including Yes/No questions)
It’s also important to note that, in the case your passport expires, your ESTA visa will too. An ESTA will only remain valid for two years, or until the passport expires depending on which comes first, so make sure to check your passport before you travel to be safe.
Some Final Things To Consider
Travelling to the United States can feel daunting at first, even with approved ESTA status. However, it’s important to remember that Customs and Border Protection are there to keep all passengers safe and that, providing you are adhering to all US laws, your journey should be fine. To ensure your trip is smooth from the very beginning, you should take note of the following:
- When You Arrive In The US
Safety is the top priority at US airports and so it’s important to ensure that your behaviour and journey through the airport or port is as smooth as possible. In order to ensure you pass through security quickly with your ESTA visa, you should ensure that you are on time where possible, that you have your ID and travel documents on hand and that any children travelling with you are also ready for the security checks.
- Prohibited Items
Even with approved ESTA status, carrying prohibited items could lead to your return to the UK or the confiscation of the items depending on the severity of the prohibition. Any passenger carrying the following is likely to be rejected entry, or in some cases, may face legal action:
- Limited Import Products
- Military Use Articles (e.g. software, blueprints etc.)
- Weapons Or Ammunition
- Automobiles Or Other Vehicles
- Items Intended For Pharmaceutical Research
- Alcohol That Exceeds Stated Amount
- Plants, Seeds or Soil (Permits May Be Obtainable)
- Copyrighted Articles
- Articles from Iran, Myanmar, Cuba, Sudan
- Food (Some May Be Allowed – Check With Border Protection)