Going to the USA as part of the VWP program: ESTA

The United States, known for its large population of citizens and wide open spaces, is becoming an even more popular destination. With this new policy change, it has become possible to travel without the need to obtain visas from certain countries that were previously required by law. To enter America under the « Visa Waiver Program » (or ESTA USA), tourists only need a passport that is valid for one year from the date of entry.

ESTA: What is this ?

To travel to the United States, you must first apply for a visa waiver program known as the Visa Waiver Program. This new system is available for countries that have been approved by the US authorities and it allows the entry of your citizen or national without first issuing a real visa.

In effect, this means that all passengers covered by the agreement, including children, will have to fill out a form so that their data can be entered electronically at home before boarding any aircraft bound for America.

The ESTA procedure must be carried out at least 72 hours before the trip. Although the time frame may vary depending on your destination and place of departure, passengers are advised to complete their application well in advance of departure. Especially if they have decided to travel with an airline that regularly warns against last minute bookings.

VWP applicants often wonder if they can travel or if they need a visa. It is possible that there are conditions attached to the visa waiver which basically requires a USA visa. In this case, travelers should not ignore these conditions and should instead consider them as necessary parts of their travel itinerary.

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When it comes to business travel, the VWP can be a great option for those looking to enter America. The program has some limitations, however. All your stays longer than 90 days will require an additional visa application. It may also be advantageous for those who wish to have more control over the length of their stay to apply for a B-1/B2 visa.

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What are the criteria to be met to benefit from an ESTA?

Citizens of all 36 countries (including France, Belgium, and Switzerland) can visit the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. All applicants must have a passport valid for at least six months beyond the intended period of stay in the United States.

As of April 1, 2016, all applicants flying to the United States of America must now have a biometric passport. This electronic passport includes a microprocessor chip that records your personal information. It can be used at airports around the world for identification purposes.

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Which groups are not allowed to obtain an ESTA?

The ESTA regulations specify that certain groups of people are not entitled to apply for an ESTA. Those individuals traveling outside of the United States must obtain a visa, while those traveling within the United States but who do not fall into one of these denied categories will simply need to show identification. upon arrival at customs. However, you can find more information on their website if you want to know which passports are considered « acceptable » for your trip.

• Persons who have been refused entry to the United States or who have been deported from the United States

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• Persons who have previously violated US entry restrictions.

• People who have already committed specific acts, who have been arrested or who have been the subject of a previous conviction for a crime.

• People infected with a communicable disease

• Any citizen of a VWP member country who has traveled to Iraq, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Sudan, Libya since March 2011 (except military personnel and diplomats).

• Citizens of VWP member countries who hold dual nationality with Iraq, Iran, Syria or Sudan.

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