ESTA visa which is also known as travel and tourism visa stands for The Electronic System for Travel Authorisation. In simple terms, it is the result of the Visa Waiver Program approved by the appropriate agencies to allow foreign nationals, who want to travel to the US, enter and stay in the country without making the application for visa. However, they need to meet certain criteria to obtain this visa.
A number of countries are part of the Visa Waiver Program which means nationals of these countries do not need to apply for the traditional visa if they wish to stay in the US for up to 90 days. It is also important to mention here that it is not equivalent to the traditional visa. There are certain situations where you may need a full visa but in most cases, this will works for most people. So, when you want to go to the US for any business related reasons or want to travel to US by air or sea for tourism or you are a traveller who is just transiting through the US, you can apply for ESTA visa.
For making the application, you need to have a valid passport and you should be citizen of an eligible country. It is also important for you to know that this visa allows you to stay in the country for a maximum period of 90 days. In case you plan to stay in the country for more than 90 days, you need to apply for the other visa. The whole process is online and does not take too much time.
As far as the application process is concerned, it is recommended to make the request for this visa at least three days prior to the departure. In most cases, this visa is granted almost immediately. In case the authorisation for this visa isn’t granted, you will need to apply for the traditional visa through the American Embassy. The ESTA is valid for two years from the issue date but you may need to apply for a completely new visa under certain circumstances. You also need to know that your passport should be valid for a period of at least six months beyond the period of the intended stay in the US.
However, if you’re not comfortable making the application on your own, you can also take the help of certain companies that can help you with the process and make sure the application is made in the right manner.