ESTA, short for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, is a measure that was undertaken the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an effort to curb the increasing security concerns towards the United States of America. It requires that the citizens of countries in the Waiver Program, to apply for the ESTA, prior to their travel into the U.S.A either by land, air or water. The Visa Waiver Program has over the years simplified traveling into the U.S for the citizens of the member countries. The only requirement for the visitors of the country has been to have a passport that can be read electronically. Visitors have, since early 2009, been required to have the ESTA for them to be admitted into the country.
It is important to comprehend however, that this ESTA is not a visa, but rather a screening mechanism that enables the Department of Homeland Security to determine which individuals are coming into the country and what their purpose in the country might be. The application for the ESTA should be done at least three days before the intended travel into the U.S.A. Should the applicant fail in the screening, they are advised to apply for a visa, preferably the Visitor Visa, depending on what cluster they fall into. Application for the two is online. The ESTA application process takes a few minutes of the applicant’s time, and it does not require the applicant to fill a lot of information. The applicant just fills information on his or her background and current occupation and possibly the purpose of travel.
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is valid for two years, and it can be renewed for future trips into the U.S.A. if they are made after the expiry of the previous ESTA.
This documentation is very crucial for any individual who plans to get into the U.S.A, because, without it, one can be denied entry into the country, and get stranded at the customs., They may also be forced to go back to the country he was coming from or divert to another country. This forces one to incur unnecessary extra costs.
The ESTA is, therefore, necessary for all citizens of countries that are part of the Waiver Program, who plan to visit U.S.A. This also includes the Waiver Program members who are on transit in the U.S.A. It goes without mentioning, Children who are on a layover in the U.S.A., or visiting in the country will also require the ESTA. Australia is one of the countries in the Visa Waiver Program, which is why Australian citizens wishing to travel to the U.S and have applied for ESTA can go there for business or leisure purposes.