The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or visa purposes for 90 days or less without a visa. Some restrictions apply to this program.
You are seeking entry for 90 days or less for either business or tourism.
You must be a citizen of a VWP participating country and hold a valid passport that is valid for six months beyond your intended visit.
You must have a machine-readable passport.
Please be aware that you will not be allowed to extend your visit or change to another visa category under the VWP.
ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an automated system that allows US authorities to determine the eligibility of visitors to enter the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel involves any security risk.
The United States Department of Homeland Security through US Customs and Border Protection (USCBP) allow each VWP traveler or their designated third party to fill out a secured online travel authorization request available on its web site. Once all information and trip details are submitted, the authorities will analyze the information and decide whether the applicant meets the requirements and qualifies for an electronic travel authorization. The system will automatically provide an answer before your travel date. The Airline will verify with USCBP that a travel authorization was granted.
An ESTA visa does not guarantee entry to the US. An ESTA visa allows a foreign citizen to travel to the US port of entry where a USCBP officer authorizes or denies admission to the US.
Your approved ESTA lasts for two (2) years from the date of issue or until the expiration date of your passport, whichever comes first.
Applicants cannot modify submitted applications, except changes to an email address, contact phone number or trip details. We strongly advise you to pay close attention to the personal and passport information you are submitting (personal information, passport number, issuing and expiration date). Once this information is submitted it cannot be modified.
Information about your travel and the address where you plan to stay in the United States is not mandatory. You can skip this step on the online application.
If your passport information changes (renewal, change in last name, etc.), you need to apply for a new online travel authorization.
If your ESTA Visa is denied, you can still apply for a B1 or B2 Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate of your country of residence.
The most recent ESTA authorization is the valid one. Please disregard previous ones.
If you have more questions please refer to our contact page.
Q: I’m currently applying for a Visitor Visa for my 3-month trip to the United States. I need proof that I have strong ties to my country which is Australia. I find it hard for my situation because I am only 18 years old and I just finished schooling. In addition to this, I don’t have much documents to prove my ties. My entire family as well as my friends live in Australia and I am leaving all my possessions behind but I don’t think it’s enough. What can I show them during the Visa interview that can help me prove my ties?
A: Since you are an Australian citizen, you do not have to apply for a Visa for a US trip that will only go for 90 days. You can go for Visa Waiver instead in which you need to register for that. You would only need a visa if you are planning to stay for more than 90 days.
Q: Can I enter Puerto Rico directly with an Australian Passport? According to a website I came across to, you cannot enter Puerto Rico directly with an Australian Passport. I find this information quite unusual but I have yet to confirm this anywhere else. The information on this website says that you can only enter Puerto Rico with an Australian Passport and without a visa by going to mainland USA first. I also checked other sources and it seems like the same entry laws apply for Puerto Rico. I’m planning to visit Puerto Rico from the Dominican Republic without having to land on mainland US first. Will someone please help me by providing official information with regards to the similarity between traveling from Puerto Rico and traveling to the mainland USA?
Puerto Rico is US territory which is why the US immigration law applies at any port of entry of the United States regardless of whether it is located on the US mainland or its territories in the Caribbean.
Here’s a quote from the US Customs and Border Protection Info Center:
Q: I am only traveling for business purposes and it’s only for a short period of time to Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Is there still a need to apply for it if I am a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program?
A: Yes, applying for a travel authorization is still needed for you to travel to these locations.
You need to apply for it for visa-free travel to Puerto Rico and the application comes with a particular fee.
Q: I’m visiting Chicago this year and I just completed my application and it got approved. What should I do next after printing my application? Do I only need to show the printout or should I be receiving something from the post which I must present to someone in Arrival? My second question is about the box indicating my Country of Residence on the form. My printout has this space blank since I didn’t see this box when I was filling out my application. Would this be a problem? Finally, I booked through Expedia and they said that the email I received will serve as my E-ticket. Should the airline send me the actual ticket in the post or should I just present the email at Check-in?
A: You do not have to deal with CIS upon arriving to the USA. Since your application is approved, you may board the plane to ask for entry into the USA. Having an approved one does not guarantee entry into the USA. If you told the truth on your application and you’re honest about the reason why you are visiting the US, then there’s a possibility that you’ll be allowed to enter.
Print your e-ticket and bring it to the airport. They will give you a boarding pass once you check in. Bring the e-ticket printout with you to the USA because you need to have it when you use the visa waiver program.
Q: How to I get a Visa to Northern Mariana Islands the easiest way considering that I have a friend there? I’m clueless on how to obtain the visa needed for me to visit my friend in Northern Mariana Islands. I also don’t know the easiest way as well as the rules and provisions I need to know to get there.
A: The US immigration law already stated a VWP which is applicable to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam-GNMI since November 28, 2009. If you are a US citizen, there’s no need for a visa to enter a country within US territory. There are about 36 countries under the VWP in which the citizens can travel to Northern Mariana Islands with no visa. In addition, Electronic System for Travel Authorization is also not required. There are also a number of countries that participate in the Guam-CNMI VWP in which citizens are allowed to stay in the US for 45 days.
Q: I have a question with regards to the VWP for visiting the US. My scheduled trip to the US will be spent 2 weeks in Los Angeles and 1 week in San Diego. So then I applied for the Visa Waiver Program and got a confirmation upon submitting it. The confirmation has letters and numbers in it and so I printed it out. Upon arrival at LAX’s US Immigration, do I have to present this printed copy? Otherwise would they know if my application is confirmed? If ever the situation goes to the event that I am declined to enter because of failing to submit an application online, am I going to be sent back immediately? What are the other solutions for this?
A: If you received a confirmation that states “Authorization Approved”, then you are good to go. This confirmation should have a 16-letter/digit application code and an expiration date. You don’t need to take this with you. However, if you didn’t receive a confirmation such as that, you need to check your status of application on the official website. You just have to enter your application number code, passport number and birthday. There is no need for you to bring the approval along with you during the trip. The data is electronically linked to the Dept. of Homeland Security wherein it is automatically checked with the government database. If ever your American Visa is invalid, the airline will either refuse to have you on board or ask you to leave the plane prior to departure.
Q: Do I need an Australian travel authorization to visit New York? I am an Australian and New Zealand citizen, living in Sydney, NSW Australia. I am going to travel to New York and stay there for one week. I saw some information about the Visa Waiver Program so I was wondering about it. Do I still need to acquire a visa if I’m only going to New York for leisure for a week?
A: If you only plan to stay not more than 90 days, a visa is no longer required. You only need to apply for it. Prior to traveling, apply for it at least 3 days before. If you are planning to visit during the peak season, allot more days for planning since there will be a lot of other people applying for it as well. Please bear in mind that being a citizen of these countries still does not fully guarantee your approval.
Q: I’m planning to spend my holiday in the US and I’m 18 years old. Is it possible?
Since I finished my studies with really good grades, my friends and I are planning to go on a holiday for a week or two. I’m planning to spend a week in Nashville, Tennessee since I have always wanted to go there. My planned itinerary includes sightseeing and attending some country music concerts there. I’m going together with a couple of friends. Won’t we have any problems staying in a hotel there since we’re all 18-year-olds?
A: Most hotels in America require their primary guests to be at least 21 years old. This is mainly because most hotel rooms offer mini bars containing alcohol and because alcoholic beverages can be ordered through room service.
Although not all hotels in the US have the same age requirement. What you need to do is to double-check and verify the check-in age requirement to the hotel itself. It’s quite advisable that you book the hotel with the help of a real travel agency to lessen all the hassle.
Going around Nashville is possible with the use of public transit or taxi. It’s important that you consider the location of the hotel to make sure it’s accessible to the city proper.
Q: I’m traveling to New York and I’m going to stay there for 5 days only. However, I’m thinking of going back there again a few months later and stay for another 2 weeks. Would there be a problem if I enter the US again under the Visa Waiver Program or would it look suspicious to visit the country just 2 months after my previous visit? Can this lead to deportation?
A: This shouldn’t be a problem at all because the Visa Waiver Program’s purpose is truly for travelers who make multiple short trips to the US. Your Visa is applicable for both trips and you won’t be needing a regular visa anymore unless your visit is not for tourism or business at all.
Q: How long would it take to get a travel authorization for USA?
So for instance, a person lives in Australia and wants to visit the US for a short period of time just to travel, how long would the visa application process take?
A: If everything goes smooth without any problems, it usually takes a week or two for a short visit. This also depends on where you want it from and what type of visa are you looking for.
There are also instances where a visa is not required especially for short visits. This is when countries participate on a VWP.
Before, the US used to ask for almost all visitors to present a visa but this is not the case anymore.
The place where you currently reside does not actually determine your need of a visa. It’s all based on what citizenship you have. Let’s say you are an Australian citizen and you’re not really planning to stay in the US for more than 90 days, you only need an Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This can be applied for online. The Travel Authorization replaces the green form which explains why it asks the same questions. Don’t be surprised if you get asked if you were ever a Nazi. It’s a question that surprises many travelers.
The key is to always check the official website of the embassy of the country you would want to visit. You can easily find information there that tells you whether you need a visa or not and how long the process would take. It may also mention about Consular services which includes visas so better check that out as well.
Q: I have a driving offense and I’m wondering if that will affect my application? I applied for it under the Visa Waiver Program for my US travel.
I am scheduled to travel to the US this year by the end of the month but I have received 6 points on my Driver’s License due to driving my car without insurance. I have successfully filled the Application out but I’m not sure if my driving offense (driving without insurance) is considered a criminal record. Just to mention, I also got a confirmation saying that my Authorization has been approved.
A: With regards to traffic offenses, if a traveler has minor traffic offenses in his/her record but did not get to the point wherein the person got arrested or convicted, the traveler can still travel visa-free. Unless there are certain reasons that deem them unqualified.
However, a crime that involves moral turpitude is considered a grave offense under the terms of society and law. This will of course, affect your visa or travel authorization.
So yes, you did not lie about answering the application question with “no” regarding a criminal record.
Q: Are there particular problems that Australian or New Zealand Citizens encounter when getting a visa to the US or when they apply for it?
How long would a US visa application take for two Australian or NZ women, one in her seventies and the other in her late 40s? Their stay in the US will last for 2 weeks only for the purpose of visiting some relatives.
A: If you are such a citizen, there is no need to obtain a visa if your stay will only last for 90 days or less. You are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program so instead of a visa, you can apply for it online. The application process is very quick and easy.
Q: Do I need an Application for Australians if I am flying from Melbourne, Victoria (Australia) to Chicago, USA? I am only 12 years old and I am scheduled to fly to Chicago alone this year. The flight is going to have a layover in London which will last for 2 hours. Since I am only 12, I researched about policies and found out that British Airways will allow me to fly alone even if without a stewardess. Is this right? Also, what am I supposed to do in the airport? What are the things I need to bring? Do I have to bring money and credit card? What should I do during the layover in London?
A: You only need your passport to enter the US if you are a US citizen.
In the case that you don’t have US citizenship and you’re an Australian or New Zealand citizen, you’ll need a visa or Electronic System for Travel Authorization prior to traveling to the US.
After completing your application, you’ll be receiving a confirmation which you have to print. You can also just record the confirmation code.
There’s actually no need for money for your food and drinks during the flight. However, it is still important for you to bring some money just in case you want to buy something as you wait for your flight in the airport. You can also choose to exchange some money to British pounds prior to leaving home so you’ll be worry-free as you arrive in London. It’s also wise to have emergency funds with you, including money in USD.
A lot of people only rely to their phone’s contacts list when it comes to very important numbers. If you haven’t memorized your home phone number and other important emergency contacts, you should definitely make a list. Keep this list with your passport.
Heathrow Airport in London is probably where you are going to change planes from Dusseldorf to Chicago.
You also need to pack a complete set of clothes and basic toiletries to your hand-carry bag. You may check TSA’s official website to check what security rules apply regarding hand-carry bags.
There is also a possibility that you have to wait in the airport for a while for your next flight so it’s better to list things to do or read.
You can check your airline’s website to see what’s included in their in-flight amenities.
If you are already on an airline partner program, that’s good. If not, join the frequent flier program that your airline offers. This is free of charge and you can do so online. If you already registered online, call your airline and let them know that you’ll add your flier number to your registration.
On the day prior to your trip, double-check your schedule to make sure that there are no changes with regards to the departure time of your flight.
Double-check to make sure that you have your boarding tickets, passport and your necessary documents with you before leaving.
Make sure you are in Dusseldorf airport at least 2 hours before your flight. You have to go to the check-in counter of the airline to receive your boarding passes and give them your checked luggage.
You will need boarding passes for both of your Dusseldorf-London and London-Chicago flight upon checking in at Dusseldorf. Your boarding pass will state your seat number and departure gate.
If ever you’ll have someone to take you to the airport, he or she probably won’t be allowed to go past by security checkpoint. So once you are already through the checkpoint, you need to carefully follow the signs on the way to your gate and wait there until you board. If you ask, the flight attendants will help you find your seat.
Upon arriving London, just follow the signs that will lead you to the gate for your next flight. The airline’s ground staff can help you with directions. It’s better to wait near the gate and wait there until you board to your Chicago flight.
If ever you are in need of help, there are lots of airline employees and staff that can assist you with directions or other flight-related questions.
On your way to Chicago, you’ll receive a US Customs form to be distributed by the flight crew. You need to complete these forms before landing. You also need to put the street address and phone number of the place you’ll be staying in the US.
Go to the Passport Control after boarding off the plane. You will be directed to the correct line by an immigration officer.
If you have any checked luggage, you need to go to Baggage Claim which is past by Passport Control. There are carts and porters there that can help you carry your luggage. After collecting your luggage, go to the Customs checkpoint. The US Customs officer will take your Customs form and then let you through. Just follow the signs to the exit.
If someone is going to meet you, he or she will be just outside the International Arrivals area.
Q: What’s next after my application? I have successfully applied for it online and I already got a confirmation for it for my upcoming US Travel. However, I’m curious on what’s next after this? Is there still a need for me to apply for it or is my entry already granted upon arriving US?
A: Yes, your entry is now granted. All you need is your airline ticket as well as your travel itinerary (including hotel reservations).
You also need to print out your confirmation or you can also just record the number/confirmation codes. Keep this information with your passport.
It is also required that you have a return ticket that states leaving North America. Make sure you have your itinerary copy since you need to present it on Passport Control.
It is also advisable to make sure if your Health Insurance covers you in the United States. If you are covered, then take the necessary documents to prove it. If it does not, avail a travel medical insurance for you. This is offered by travel agents or the airline itself. Medical care in the US is great but it’s not cheap and it’s not free. It’s important that you have a medical health insurance just in case an emergency happens.
Do not schedule the date of your departure on the 90th day, especially if you are planning to stay in the US for a long time. In US policies, any part of the day is considered one full day. If you arrive at 11:59pm on day 1 and leave at 12:01am on day 10, that still counts as 10 days. It is much better to set your departure on or before day 88 of your stay because there are no exemptions for individuals who voluntarily overstayed under the VWP. There is a huge possibility that your VWP privileges will be permanently cancelled if you miss your flight due to invalid reasons.
Q: I overstayed on a J1 Visa. Can I still return to the US again?
A few years ago, I accidentally mixed up my visa documents with regards to my J1 visa. Because of this, I miscalculated my 30-day travel limit and went over for 12 more days. Right now, I recently applied for it to travel to the US and got approved. Despite that, I still have worries that I might be declined to enter the US. Do you have any advice regarding this? Is it possible to enter the US again after the mishap I had back then?
A: The fact that your Electronic System for Travel Authorization has been approved still does not guarantee your entry to the USA. There are a lot of people who learned this the hard way. If the US Customs and Border officer designated on the port of entry found out about your previous record of overstaying, you will be denied to enter and be sent back home.
Q: What visa do we need to visit the US considering that I am an Australian citizen and my wife is a New Zealand citizen?
My wife and I need to go to the US for our son’s graduation but I’m not sure what kind of visa do we need to obtain. Since I am Australian, I know I don’t need a visa but what visa do we need for my wife (NZ Citizen)? Do I still need to register myself under the Visa Waiver Program?
A: A tourist visa (also known as B-2 visa) is required for your wife. She needs to apply for this at the Consulate General or US Embassy which has jurisdiction on the NZ state you currently live in.
If your case is that you have an expired Green Card and you have been residing outside the US for more than a year, you need to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization online. This is under the provisions of the Visa Waiver Program. There is a fee for the application and it can be paid using a credit card.
Q: I’m scheduled to fly to the US this year and the trip will only take 5 days. However, I recently heard about the recent changes regarding travel policies and requirements. It will take effect on the 4th day of my trip before I leave the US. Since there are changes, do I still need to apply for it stating my original return date or just mention the date after the new requirements take effect?
A: If your application is approved, this is valid for two years or until your passport reaches its expiry. There’s no need to apply for your upcoming trip but if ever you do apply for one, there’s no need to do it again for another 2 years.
You can submit your US Visa application to the official website. DHS accepts this kind of voluntary application.
If your country participates in the VWP, you will be required to apply for the authorization regardless of what country you’ll come from. It is mandatory prior to traveling to the US by air or sea.
Q: I’m wondering how much will it cost me to get an application? I’m actually planning to apply as a nanny in the USA but I would like to ask first the cost of actually applying for it.
A: You can go to the USA to travel under the VWP program. There is a particular fee for this so please check the website to see the exact cost. However, once your employer hires you, you need a working visa for that.
Q: My American Visa has been cancelled. As part of VWP, is it still possible for my J1 Visa to be denied as well for having my boyfriend in the US? This is my case, I used to work in the US complete with a working one. On my previous job, I fell in love with a non-US citizen who is under an HB1 Visa. I had to go back to France but since then, I started flying more often to the US just to see my boyfriend. I flew every month under it. But then the situation changed when I was stopped by Customs last time saying that I have been traveling to the US too much. I was told by friends to hide my relationship with my boyfriend so I did. Unfortunately, I got caught. They sent me back to France and permanently canceled it (with a sworn statement). So eventually, I got an opportunity to acquire a J1 visa. I’m scheduled for an appointment in the consulate soon. My boyfriend’s name is mentioned in my sworn statement just to mention. Now, should I just tell them that my boyfriend and I are just friends? Do you think my visa can be denied for having a boyfriend in the US? Any suggestions please?
A: Probably there’s no accurate answer for this. There is a possibility that the consulate will look at your J1 visa application the same way they looked at your Visa Waiver previously. There is a possibility that they’ll think you’re only using it to see your boyfriend just like before. It’s very difficult to say but since you have already lost your Visa Waiver privilege due to lying, it would be wise to just tell the truth this time about your boyfriend. On the other hand, you can also just consider marrying him and live together on an H4 visa. However, that won’t still allow you to work.
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