Citizens of 35 countries in Europe and the Far East may visit the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa if the attendee has a passport with a computer-readable bar code under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Details can be found at the U.S. Department of State web site at http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html or contact your local American consulate. Attendees from Canada and Mexico are reminded to bring a valid passport to cross into the United States.
International visitors to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program are now required to apply for travel authorization online. To apply visit the Electronic System for Travel Authorization web site at http://www.cbp.gov/xp/cgov/travel/id_visa/esta/.
If you do not already have current ESTA authorization, we recommend that you apply as soon as you know you will be traveling to the United States under the VWP.
Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). ESTA approval authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the United States under the VWP.
ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required. Travelers that possess a valid U.S. visa may travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose it was issued. Travelers traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA. In the same way that a valid visa does not guarantee admission to the United States, an approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admission to the United States.
ESTA became mandatory January 12, 2009. VWP applicants are required to complete a green Form I-94W and a white Customs declaration upon arrival in the U.S. whether or not they have an ESTA authorization.
Approved ESTA applications are valid for a period of two years, and multiple trips to the United States without the traveler having to re-apply for another ESTA. The ESTA travel information may be updated before each trip to the U.S., but it is not required. When traveling to the U.S. with the approved ESTA, you may only stay for up to 90 days at a time - and there should be a reasonable amount of time between visits so that the CBP Officer does not think you are trying to live here. There is no set requirement for how long you must wait between visits.
Travelers whose ESTA applications are approved, but whose passports will expire in less than two years, will receive an ESTA valid until the passport's expiration date.
New ESTA authorization is required if:
DHS recommends that you apply for ESTA authorization as soon as you know you will be traveling to the United States under the VWP.