The process of traveling to the United States has changed significantly since the introduction of the Visa Waiver Program by the U.S. government and the implementation of the Electronic System for Travel Authorization ( ESTA ). Thus, to answer the question: “Do I need a U.S. visa to travel to the United States?”, the traveler must first find out the situation in his or her country of residence with respect to the program. Indeed, the nationals of the States participating in this program currently benefit from a privileged access to the American territory within the framework of a travel with the ESTA and thus without USA visa. But, to take advantage of it, the traveler must meet all the required conditions, in particular, the eligibility to the visa exemption: to make a stay of less than 90 days, to have a biometric or electronic passport, to obtain the authorization ESTA before the departure, to be in possession of a return ticket proving the real intention to leave the country before the expiration of the 90 days
To receive the ESTA, you must fill out an online form that allows you to travel to the United States. The possibility of traveling to the United States depends on whether or not you obtain this authorization to stay. This system was put in place to enhance security measures for the country, Americans and visitors. ESTA authorization allows for the pre-screening of foreign nationals wishing to stay or transit and to prevent the entry or intrusion of individuals with malicious intent or who could threaten health and/or homeland security.
The information required on the form can be categorized into three parts: the first is the traveler’s identity with passport information; the second is the traveler’s physical and mental health status; the third is related to the traveler’s travel plans such as purpose or place of residence during travel to the United States. To be granted, the ESTA form must be filled out correctly. A permit issued is valid for a total stay of 90 days and for multiple entries for 2 years or until the passport expires. Since the ESTA is linked to your passport number, you must renew your application if you have a new passport.
Cases where a visa is required to enter the United States
Obtaining a visa to enter the United States is required for all countries not participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), regardless of the purpose of travel or length of stay. However, for nationals of countries participating in the program, the situation is different depending on the length of stay and the reason.
Indeed, the visa is required when the trip exceeds 90 days, or for a trip other than for business, tourism or transit. For example, if you want to stay in the United States for 6 months, work in the United States or study at a university, you will have to apply for a visa at the American embassy. In addition, a normally visa-exempt citizen who has been denied ESTA by the U.S. authorities must also apply for a visa.
How do I get an ESTA to travel to the United States?
If you are from a country that is part of the Visa Waiver Program, you can enjoy visa-free travel to the United States under certain conditions. The essential condition is to obtain an ESTA. To acquire this travel document, you must apply on the official website of the American government. The ESTA application must be completed correctly at least 72 hours prior to the planned departure date. The duration of the stay, which may be for business, tourism or transit, must not exceed 90 days. The other requirement is that the passport be biometric or electronic.
Bring your passport and credit card to pay for the ESTA application and go to one of the sites offering to apply for permission on your behalf.