ESTA Application
Your Most Burning Questions About the VWP
and the ESTA Answered
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You must have heard it already. The United States’ Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is a big buzz among travelers who wish to go to the US without the hassles of a visa application. If you’re one of the many, there are a number of things you must know and remember about the ESTA and the VWP before you head off and get one. Here are your most burning questions about the VWP and the ESTA answered.
Let’s start with the basics. What is the VWP?

The VWP is a mechanism by the US government that allows eligibility to certain nationals and passport holders of select countries to travel to the US without a visa.

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What is the ESTA?

The ESTA, also called as the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is the mechanism by which you can go to the US visa-free. If you are a citizen or a passport-holder of any of the 37 countries under the VWP, then you can simply secure a travel authorization online so that you can go to the US visa-free.
 Who is eligible for the ESTA under the VWP? Apply Now
So far, there are only 37 countries under the VWP and so, only the citizens and passport-holders of these countries can apply for the ESTA under the VWP. The ESTA is good for:

  • People traveling to the US on short notice, such as people who need to go to the US on emergency conditions to visit a relative or seek medical attention

  • Businessmen and individuals who frequent the US for business or pleasure and do not want the inconvenience of filing for visa

  • Students and professionals who are staying in the US for less than 90 days to attend a training or to join an exchange program

  • Individuals who are likely to visit the US again within a period of two years

 How does one secure an authorization? Apply Now
Because everything is handled online, the requirements are also simple and few compared to a visa. You only need to prepare your e-Passport (machine-readable passport), the application form available on the ESTA website, and a credit card for the payment of the application.

Simply fill out the form and be ready with the details of your e-Passport. Upon submission of the documents online, payment is charged on your credit card. You will then receive an application number, which you can use to track the status of your application. This application number is also the reference number of your authorization. The application number will be updated when you secure or get another authorization after two years.

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Can I log back in to the system and check my application status if I lost my application number?

Unfortunately no, so it is important to copy the application number you will receive upon submission of your application. This is the only way you can log back into the system to check on your application status.

How long is the ESTA valid?

The ESTA is valid for a period of two years, after which you need to secure a new authorization again if you’re traveling to the US. If you are also issued a new passport, you also need to get a new travel authorization.

Are all applications for travel authorization approved?

No. There are also instances wherein an application for the travel authorization is disapproved. The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that administers the ESTA also does not reveal or specify reasons why your application has been disapproved. Remember though that the ESTA is done to ensure that only those who are eligible to travel to the US under the VWP and those who do not pose any serious security risk or have no law enforcement violations can travel to the US.

If your application is disapproved, it is best to apply for a travel visa instead.

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