Need of ESTA for Visa Waiver Program
Electronic System for Travel Authorization came into force in August 2008 and today it is the most convenient way of obtaining US visa but it is available only to 38 countries.
USA gets maximum number of visitors than any other country and people come here for different reasons like business, leisure or family. Since it gets many visitors, it has to stretch its security to screen every visitor. US has enacted a Visa Waiver Program to ease visa conditions for 38 countries.
What is Visa Waiver Program?
In 1986, US government enacted a visa program to facilitate trade and commerce and short-term tourism. Since most visitors come to US for less than 90 days, US government decided to give a leeway to those visitors. Visa Waiver Program was prepared to remove visa restrictions from countries participating in the program. UK became the first country to accept USA ESTA visa and Japan became second.
It is called Electronic System for Travel Authorization and it is available online. A visitor seeking permission to enter into US territory only for 90 days can get visa through the electronic system. If the visitor belongs to a member country, he can apply for visa under the VWP and get permission to visit US in a hassle free manner. Application for VWP is made simple and accessible and also screening is done instantly.
How to apply for ESTA visa?
VWP removes the need to visit embassy, fill lengthy forms and submit application personally. It is an online system and its advantage is that visitors can get the visa application submitted by their travel agents. But responsibility of providing authentic information and also of giving proofs in support of the information provided in the visa application lies on the visa holder and not on the travel agent.
Visitors applying for ESTA visa USA are given ESTA numbers that visitors need carrying along in PDF format when traveling to US.Security staff will establish reliability of the visitors from their ESTA numbers and allow them to enter US only on finding the visitors safe for US territories and its citizens. Here it is necessary to mention that visa given under ESTA isn’t permission to enter US but a prescreening process to ease burden of mainland security staff.
Eligibility for VWP
If you are visiting US for less than 90 days then you are eligible for applying for visa under VWP. Also you can apply for ESTA visa anytime even just before your travel. What is more exciting is you can continue your stay in US even if your visa expires. ESTA authorization is valid for two years from the date of authorization or until the passport expires, whichever is earlier. VWP has helped US and friendly countries manage travel and visa issues in a hassle free manner.
Present status of VWP
US travel visa is made stringent to discourage criminals and terrorists from entering the US territories under the disguise of a friend. But the VWP is in force and there are no plans to remove the VWP. On the contrary, US government is considering to strengthening the electronic visa system to make the system more human friendly.
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