What is an ESTA registration for visiting American territory?
The ESTA authorisation is an official document that is obligatory for certain visitors who wish to visit American territory. It replaces the traditional visa and offers undeniable advantages with the simplicity of its procedure. The ESTA registration is however only available under certain conditions.
Above all, the visitor must be a citizen of one of the 38 countries that have signed an agreement with the United States concerning this programme. The United Kingdom and Ireland for example are part of this programme.
An ESTA registration only covers visits of less than 90 days. If your visit exceeds that period you will need to apply for a traditional visa.
Finally, to complete an ESTA application it is necessary to hold a biometric or digital passport which is valid for the entirety of your visit.
It is important to note that you are obliged to obtain ESTA authorisation even if you only transit by American territory or you are simply having a stopover.
How to obtain an ESTA authorisation to travel on American territory?
As we stated above, it is fairly simple to obtain ESTA authorisation to travel within American territory. For this you will need to complete a simple online application form such as the one you can find on our website.
You will be asked a certain number of questions, some of which concern your identity and personal status. You should therefore ensure that you have your passport with you when completing the application form. You can modify the information entered at any time but your application will only be transmitted to the American authorities after you have validated your application form. To do so you will need to make payment using a credit card to cover the administration fees.
When will I receive my ESTA authorisation for visiting American territory?
The maximum processing period of your ESTA authorisation application is 72 hours but generally the response is much faster. This decision by the American authorities will be transmitted by email to the address given during the completion of your application.
If your ESTA application is accepted you have nothing further to do as this authorisation is directly transmitted to your travel company and the immigration services. However, it is possible that your application may be refused in which case you will have the possibility of resubmitting an ESTA application after 10 days or applying for a short term visa.
The cases for refusal of entry onto American territory:
Entry onto American territory is subject to certain regulations and conditions as dictated by the current American laws. It is therefore possible that entrance is denied due to several factors. Here are the principal reasons for refusal:
- A prior refusal or expulsion from the territory: If you have already tried to visit the United States and your entry has been refused or you have been escorted to the border by the authorities for expulsion then you cannot enter the USA again.
- The non-presentation of official documents: As you know, entry into the United States requires certain official documents such as a valid passport and an ESTA authorisation or visa. If you are lacking one of these documents or one of these documents is no longer valid then you will be denied entry into the United States.
- A refusal from immigration agents: Even if you possess all the legal authorisations necessary for your entry into the USA nothing can stop an immigration agent at your disembarkation to refuse to allow you to leave the airport and thereby deny you entry into America if you have broken the law in some way.
- A particular health problem: Certain people who suffer from a contagious illness or require serious regular medical treatment are also forbidden from visiting the USA.
- Represent a risk for the country’s security: Finally, if the American authorities believe that you may possibly represent a risk to national security, for example if you are fleeing from justice or have been noted for actions or connections to a terrorist group then you will of course not be able to visit the United States.
On arrival on American territory
Once the visitor has landed on American territory, they are required to pass through compulsory registration which includes digital fingerprinting; the number of fingers printed varies according to the airport, and a photograph of the visitor’s face.
The American port and airport authorities can, at any time, effect in-depth verification controls on any passenger during which it is strongly recommended that the latter makes no negative or sarcastic comment that may result in detention, a fine or prohibition of their visit. The presentation of a travel ticket and proof of financial solvability (travel cheques or credit card) are also required for entering the USA.