How useful is ESTA
The ESTA declaration allows you above all to free yourself from a traditional visa application if your trip does not exceed 90 days. Thanks to the Visa Waiver Program, any citizen of one of the 40 participating countries can apply for this travel authorization before leaving for the United States. The ESTA allows to have:
- A visa for business trips: attend meetings, sign contracts with partners, but also participate in short-term and unpaid training ;
- A visa tourist for USA trips: to travel freely throughout the country, to participate in various cultural activities, to take courses provided that they do not issue credits to obtain a university degree.
ESTA is a system put in place in 2009 to provide safer travel conditions for travelers and thus strengthen the security of American territory. The processing fees ($ 21 minimum since may 2022) are used to modernize the security systems already in place, but also to promote tourism to the United States.
Functions of the Homeland Security Department
The Department of Homeland Security was formed in 2002 in response to the September 11 attacks, to increase the internal security of the United States.
Comprised of 15 federal agencies, it operates under the aegis of the US government. The functions of DHS are diverse. This specific service ensures, among other things, the management of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Travelers who wish to travel to the USA, without a visa, are required to complete an ESTA form, comprising multiple questions relating to the identity of the applicant, his state of health, his criminal record … These answers are then sent to DHS who decides whether or not to grant the applicant’s residence permit. In fact, the authorities wishing to limit the terrorist threat as much as possible can, in the event of a “risky” profile, choose not to issue the document.
Passports authorized to stay in the United States
If you plan to go to the United States, be aware that you must have a valid passport, otherwise boarding will be refused. Two types of passports are currently accepted:
- Electronic passport: used since 2006, it contains an electronic chip. The recorded information can be read from a short distance via an electromagnetic reader (name, nationality, date of birth, passport number).
- The biometric passport: put into circulation in 2009, it has an electronic chip containing more information than that of the electronic passport: the holder’s photo and fingerprints are integrated. This new version has been implemented to further limit the risk of identity theft.
A passport is valid for 10 years for adults and 5 years for minors. If you do not have a passport or if it has expired, go to the City hall. Several documents will be required:
- An identity card or the old passport;
- A valid identity photo;
- Proof of address: original + photocopy;
- A pre-request number or the duly completed request form;
- A tax stamp.
People living abroad must apply at the consulate and pay an amount of 96 euros.
Before leaving for the United States, also remember to check that the number written on your passport is the same as the one notified on your ESTA. If you have changed your passport in the meantime, you must reapply for ESTA.