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Visa Waiver / Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Immigration Lawyer Charlotte NC

Visa Waiver / Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) program is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. Travel authorization via ESTA does not determine admissibility at the port of entry. Travelers are still subject to inspection and a determination of his or her admissibility upon arriving in the U.S. Although a visa interview does not have to be conducted in front of a Consular Officer, the agency that will decide admissibility will be Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”).

Travelers electronically submit biographical data. Travel Authorization must be obtained prior to boarding. It is recommended that you apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before traveling, you may apply at any time before boarding. In most cases, ESTA provides an almost instantaneous decision (within seconds). There are three types of responses that ESTA can produce: Authorization Approved, Authorization Pending, and Travel Not Authorized. If you receive an approval, you are authorized to travel to the U.S. If Authorization is Pending, you will need to check the website for updates within 72 hours for a decision. If your Travel is Not Authorized, you will need to apply for a visa and attend a visa interview with a Consular Officer.

The requirements to obtain travel authorization are the same as they would be to obtain a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa. Also similar to a B-1 or B-2 visa, if your ESTA expires while you are in the U.S., it will not affect your departure. Unlike a B-1 or B-2 visa which may allow you to remain in the U.S. for 6 months at a time, ESTA only allows you to remain in the U.S. for 90 days or less. If you would like to remain in the U.S. longer, you will need to obtain a visa.

Travel under ESTA is valid for multiple trips over a period of two years, or until your passport expires, whichever happens first. However, if you obtain a new passport, change your name, gender, or country of citizenship during the two year period, or if any of the answers to the eligibility questions change, you must apply for new travel authorization.

ESTA Application

We assist clients complete Electronic System for Travel Authorization applications since many of them fear inputting incorrect information. Typos about your passport- such as the expiration date or passport number, biometric information like your name, date of birth, sex or country of citizenship, cannot be corrected and require a new application to be completed (which can be done if the previous application was approved). We also prepare packages for the traveler to carry with him or her to present at the port of entry. We also offer “on-call” services to address issues at the port of entry.

Contact Us

Please give us a call to discuss your case. In-person consultations are available Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm and Saturdays from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm.  Please call our office at 301.529.1912 or complete the form below. Please be sure to provide a timeline of events along with details of your entire immigration history./strong>