This is a sponsored post.
If you’re a UK national and you’re heading to the USA you have probably heard the word ESTA being thrown around once or twice and whilst it may seem overwhelming and stressful at first, applying for an ESTA is incredibly simple and a MUST for those entering the states.
Having recently come back from the USA, it isn’t long since I complete the process myself. Because of this, I thought I’d share everything you need to know to make getting your ESTA as stress-free as possible.
What Is An ESTA?
ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation and refers to the process of applying to see if you’re eligible to travel to the USA without having to get a Visa. For those that don’t know, the Visa Waiver Program is a simple process that allows you to enter the US on the required visa.
Having applied for a J-1 visa before the ESTA application was definitely a little simpler as it didn’t require a visit to the US embassy in London.
Who Should Apply?
You need to apply for an ESTA if you meet the following criteria:
- You are a UK Citizen or a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program
- You are travelling to the USA for 90 days or less (for business and/or for pleasure)
- You do not already hold a visa for the USA
- You are going to be arriving in the USA by either plane or ship
When Should You Apply?
The guidelines say ESTA applications can take up to 72 hours, so make sure you’re applying at leas y 3 days before you’re due to travel. To avoid any issues, the sooner you apply the better.
How Much Does It Cost?
It costs $14 for an approved ESTA.
How Long Does It Last?
Your ESTA will expire two years after it is granted, or when your passport runs out. Once it has expired, you need to apply for a new ESTA as they are not renewable.
It’s also important to note that if you have to get a new passport, you will need to renew your existing ESTA as they do not transfer.
If you want to check whether your ESTA has expired, you can use the ‘check existing application’ function on the official ESTA website.
Where Do You Apply?
If you’re looking to apply for an ESTA visa, there are various different places to look.
From the official site to visa bureaus, it’s important you’re doing as much research as you can before you apply as not all sites offering visas are legitimate.
In most cases, you find visa bureaus much easier to use. The official site is often not very clear and offers no customer service other than a basic FAQ. With a visa bureau like e-visa.co.uk, you have access to 24/7 customer service and your application will be manually checked by visa specialists. If your application is denied for whatever reason, you will also be refunded the full application cost.
What Does The Application Process Involve?
There are a number of different questions that you need to answer, roughly taking 10-15 minutes to complete.
From your current address to your citizenship details, you will be expected to answer everything to the best of your ability. Make sure you have an electronic copy of your passport, as you’ll also need to upload one to your application.
How Long Does Approval Take?
Approval can take anything from 2 hours to 72 hours.
How Do I Know When I Have Been Approved?
You won’t receive your approval via email or text, so you need to be sure you’re logging back into your account to check whether or not you have been approved. Often, you may find it happens within a couple of hours so make sure you’re checking back regularly.
Once you have been approved you need to print out a copy of the approval page, as this is required by a lot of airlines entering the US.
What Should You Do If Your Application Is Not Accepted?
Unfortunately, if you’re rejected you will have to apply for the relevant Visa using the US Embassy website.
Don’t forget to apply for your ESTA as soon as you possibly can to give you time to fix any issues that may arise! I personally didn’t experience issues, but you never know.
Do you need to apply for an ESTA soon? I hope this post helped!