Which passport should I have to obtain an ESTA or a visa?

To go to the USA, the traveler must request an authorization from the American administration before his departure. There are two main authorizations for a temporary stay in the United States: the USA visa or the ESTA document. Whether you choose one or the other, a valid passport is required. The ESTA application and the US visa application do not require the same administrative steps. This article will give you an overview of the permission you need to visit the United States and the passport you need.

U.S. government visitor passport requirements

Regardless of the country of departure, a valid passport is one of the necessary and indispensable identification documents when traveling to the United States. If the traveler wishes to go to the USA with a visa, the only requirement for his passport is its validity.

This is not the case for a traveler with ESTA, because his passport must meet the criteria set by the U.S. immigration services to hope to make a stay in the United States. Indeed, the only passports accepted in the electronic system are biometric passports or electronic passports.

Travel formalities with a visa for the USA

To be eligible to apply for a visa, one of the requirements is to have a valid passport, make sure that the expiration date has not passed. Otherwise, you can always apply for a new passport at the town hall. In addition to a valid passport, other documents must be prepared to travel to the USA. A DS-160 form must be completed, passport photos must be provided and a substantial fee must be paid to the U.S. Embassy to complete the application. Applying for a visa is a time-consuming process. Except for Mexico and Canada, citizens of countries that are not members of the Visa Waiver Program must apply for a visa to enter the United States. For citizens from VWP countries, a visa is required when the intended stay exceeds 90 days, when the reason for travel is other than business, tourism or transit, or when ESTA authorization has been denied.

An application for a US student visa is required for individuals wishing to study in the US or planning to visit the US for more than three months as part of their academic studies.

There is a visa for every need: tourist visa, visa for studies, etc.

Steps to take for a trip to the United States with the ESTA

In principle, travel to the United States requires a visa. However, under certain circumstances, nationals of the 40 countries participating (since 2022) in the Visa Waiver Program may be exempted from the visa requirement. These countries, which are lucky enough to benefit from this visa exemption, are : Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and Taiwan.

These nationals must obtain the ESTA, an electronic travel authorization. This document is obtained online only, by filling out an ESTA form. The document is issued within a maximum of 72 hours. It is possible to obtain it via the US government website or specialized websites. This option is only available for tourist trips to the US, business trips or simple transit trips that do not exceed 90 days and if you have an electronic or biometric passport. This system was put in place to secure access to the country and to simplify formalities for travelers.

To apply for an ESTA, you must bring your passport with you and provide the passport number. This code will tell the American authorities that you have an ESTA. Once the document is obtained, it is valid for two years and the traveler may, if he or she wishes, travel to the United States several times, but never for more than 90 days.