ESTA is not properly understood by most foreign nationals. There are so many misconceptions and a lot of confusion surrounding it. You have to understand that as a citizen of specific countries you can travel to the US without a visa because of the Visa Waiver Program but this does not mean everything is really simple. If you are thinking about traveling to the US and you hear that you need to get ESTA USA authorization, here are some important things to be aware of.
ESTA Is Not Visa
When you get your ESTA approval, you practically end up being approved to visit the US without having to get a visa. Because of the information that you offered, the automatic vetting process is automatically passed and you are considered to be eligible to enter the country.
The visa is a travel authorization form that automatically entails a lengthy process. ESTA online applications normally get approved or denied in 1 day after details are sent in. Confirmation is normally given through an email. When you apply for a visa, the process can even last months.
ESTA Validity Is Two Years
ESTA authorizations can only last a maximum of 2 years. The period starts when the approval is received. The only situation in which ESTA authorization lasts for a shorter time frame is when the passport expires first. That is why it is normally recommended to first renew the passport and then apply for ESTA.
One of the biggest differences between ESTA and other travel authorization types is that you cannot extend it when inside the country. However, if ESTA is valid as you enter the country, it can be expired when leaving. Even so, a maximum of 90 days should have passed and no more.
You Can Stay In The Country For Up To 3 Months At A Time
As you enter the country you can stay for up to 90 days with an ESTA approval. Outstaying this period is not allowed and it is going to jeopardize the ability to re-enter the US on future trips. You should also know that if you travel to the neighboring territories like Mexico and Canada, the 90 days are still ticking. This is a measure put in place so that people would not take advantage of a potential border hopping reset. ESTA clock is going to reset whenever you go to other countries. When you need to stay in the country for more than ninety days, you have to apply for a suitable visa.
You Can Use ESTA For Both Business And Tourism
With the above 90 days condition mentioned, ESTA allows you to go to the US for both business and pleasure. However, business does not mean going to the US to work. Business travel in this case practically covers going to the US in order to attend congresses, conferences, meetings and so on. It is also possible to visit with other specific purposes, like short-term medical treatments or short-term academic courses.