Travelling to the US with a VISA? Behold the ESTA!

Thank you Josh and Sophie for writing this guest post. More about them at the bottom of the post.

Travelling to the United States of America can be challenging. The whole process can be very time consuming, from organising flights, locations, accommodations, VISA’s etc. At least now, for many the VISA can be taken away from that list, as it can be replaced with the ESTA.

If you’re planning on visiting the United States for a holiday, business reasons or you have a connecting flight that involves the US, you no longer have to apply for a VISA, so long as you are from one of the 38 nations that qualify for the ESTA programme.

The ESTA application is completed online, which takes around 10 minutes from start to finish. Once completed, you should receive a status update within minutes with one of the following messages: –
* ‘Application approved’ means that you can travel to the US.
* ‘Application pending’ means that you will have to provide more information.
* ‘Application rejected’ means that you will have to apply for a conventional VISA.
** Applications can take up to 72 hours to be accepted, although this is rare.

Why is ESTA a revolution?

Typically, VISA’s are not valid for very long. Thus, meaning renewal can be expensive and time-consuming. The ESTA is valid for two years and as previously mentioned, takes minutes to be completed via an online application. Therefore, saving a lot of time and effort. Not to mention, the ESTA is considerably cheaper than a traditional VISA.

Under this programme, you may travel to the US as often as you like, as long as you do not stay within the country for more than 90 days per visit.

Important information

Even if your ESTA is granted, this does not guarantee that you will be accepted into the country. Airport officials ultimately have the final say on who will be allowed into the country.

You may be asked to provide evidence that you have sufficient funds for your whole duration in the United States.

If your ESTA is rejected, you will need to apply for a conventional visa.

The US implemented changes to the Visa Waiver Programme in January 2016. These changes are as followed: Any citizen holding a dual nationality with the following countries: Iran, Iraq, Sudan and Syria and one of the 38 countries eligible for the ESTA programme would now be deemed ineligible.

Furthermore, any persons that have travelled to Libya, Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after 1st of March 2011, are now also ineligible to travel to or be admitted to the United States with the ESTA programme.

You can find out more about the ESTA programme here

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ESTA Programme

Josh and Sophie

Josh and Sophie are students in Liverpool and have created this informative post to raise awareness about the ESTA programme. Josh personally benefitted from the ESTA programme, as it stopped him from being stranded in Mexico in summer 2016. Maybe it can help you too.


  1. February 26, 2017 / 7:13 PM

    Useful information about the ESTA – I know some people who didn’t realise that they needed to get one before heading over and ended up scrambling at the last minute to get one! Thanks for sharing

  2. February 26, 2017 / 8:15 PM

    Interesting post about ESTA – I think people should know more about this before planninh a trip to US. Thanks for sharing.

  3. February 26, 2017 / 8:49 PM

    Useful information about the ESTA. Often it’s taken for granted that a traveller knows what paperwork they require to enter a country. Thank you for making more travellers aware πŸ™‚

  4. February 27, 2017 / 3:37 PM

    This is a fabulous guest post, very informative! I haven’t yet had the pleasure of travelling to the States because when I do, I know I will want to be there for a while as there is so much to see and do, therefore this is the perfect post to help me plan. I have pinned it for future reference so thank you so much for posting this, it’s most helpful! #feetdotravel

  5. February 27, 2017 / 10:55 PM

    Great guest post information about the ESTA program. I am from the States and it is always good to be up to date on the requirements to visit and stay in the United States. I pinned this for others. Thanks for Sharing πŸ™‚

  6. February 28, 2017 / 9:01 AM

    Wow, we had never heard of the ESTA program, but it sounds simple and affordable to apply to. I will pass this information on to my UK friends if they decide to travel to the US. Thanks guys!

  7. Suhas Prabhu
    March 1, 2017 / 11:16 AM

    Great news! Have seen US visa officers reject visa applications for apparently flimsy reasons. An online application system will remove arbitrary bias.

  8. March 1, 2017 / 12:16 PM

    ESTA is a quick and easy process allowing for electronic passport control on entry and exit too. Really convenient, especially at airports like JFK and O’Hare.

  9. March 3, 2017 / 10:04 AM

    I had no idea about this program. I have always thought it’s hard getting into the states and will be even more so now after Donald Trump is the president. This, as long as it doesn’t get cancelled, does give me hope though. Thanks for sharing the info!

  10. March 4, 2017 / 3:37 AM

    I have never heard of the ESTA program. 2 years for $14 is a great deal! During our trip around the world last year we avoided places where we would need a VISA because I feel like it can be a hassle. A program like this would make it so much easier. Pinned and tweeted for other travelers to see πŸ™‚

  11. March 15, 2017 / 2:09 PM

    This is brilliant! I never knew heard of it before and have been putting off going to the US because I know how long the visa process can take! Thanks so much for sharing and I’m DEFINITELY going to do this now πŸ˜€

    • Shruti Prabhu
      March 16, 2017 / 10:39 AM

      Thanks for commenting Sarah. Hope you do have a fun filled US trip. Would love to read about your adventures.

  12. April 9, 2017 / 11:23 AM

    ESTA works really well. Since it was introduced, I’ve found it a lot easier to travel to the USA.

  13. April 9, 2017 / 6:59 PM

    Very useful tips and ESTA is bound to make traveling to the USA easier, in most cases.

  14. April 10, 2017 / 2:48 PM

    I had always thought the ESTA was a great initiative to streamline the visa application process. It’s just unfortunate that the current administration are denying certain nationalities this basic right of entry.

  15. Barb
    April 10, 2017 / 5:40 PM

    Sounds like an easy way to enter the USA. I m glad they make it easier and easier for foreigners to enter our country.

  16. April 11, 2017 / 2:41 AM

    ESTA is a huge benefit to travelers who need a visa for the US. So glad that option is on the table now. I can’t imagine the paperwork and time that is spent on getting visas.

  17. April 11, 2017 / 12:25 PM

    The ESTA is really a welcome step. It cuts a lot of the red tape and hassles involved with US Visas. Thanks for calling this out Fortunately we have not had many issues on this front as the process was managed by the corporate team πŸ™‚

  18. April 12, 2017 / 8:44 PM

    ESTAs are so much easier. That’s what Australia uses for visitors. It’s so fast and easy. I didn’t realize that here in the US we use it for visitors too.

  19. April 13, 2017 / 6:54 AM

    I’ve never heard of this before! But very informative post filled with loads of great information for those who need this! Anything that can make travel easier and less of a process is good news in my books πŸ™‚

  20. Megan Jerrard
    April 13, 2017 / 8:49 AM

    Thanks for the great info – being from Australia I’ve traveled on an ESTA before, and it’s a very efficient and convenient method of obtaining permission for entry πŸ™‚

  21. April 16, 2017 / 1:09 AM

    Nice info. Never heard about the ESTA program before but good to know about it as travelling to the US and getting visa done is such a pain πŸ™

  22. smith@travel
    July 13, 2018 / 1:23 PM

    We rarely think about visa programs, but it`s really very useful information while traveling.

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