When do I need an ESTA form?

Do you want to go to the USA, but you don’t know which travel authorization you need? It is easy to get lost between American visa, green card (green card) and ESTA USA . This is why we explain to you what the ESTA form for the United States of America consists of and in which circumstances it is mandatory to make an ESTA request.

What is the ESTA questionnaire for?

The ESTA online questionnaire must be completed in order to receive the American travel authorization called ESTA, for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This authorization allows travelers who have it to be exempted from applying for a USA visa at the American Embassy. Going to the USA is thus a simple and quick formality provided you are eligible.

The US government implemented this authorization in order to strengthen the internal security of the country within the framework of the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA makes it possible to read the personal information of each traveler before their arrival on American soil.

If you complete the ESTA questionnaire and the US authorities accept your request, you can use the authorization throughout its validity period and travel to the US territory as many times as you wish. An ESTA authorization is valid for two years or until the expiry of the biometric (or electronic) passport if the latter expires earlier. Note that a change of passport leads to a new ESTA application. This new online application must of course be made with the new passport.

In which situations should I request an ESTA form?

USA travel
USA travel

Now that you know the usefulness of the ESTA document, find out if it is possible for you to request the form online.

Conditions of eligibility for the ESTA document

The ESTA form is essential for nationals exempt from US visas who wish to travel to the USA. The member countries of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) have been 39 since Poland was accepted in 2019 (the list of countries concerned can be consulted on the official website of the American government). Note that France is one of the participating countries.

Being a national of a member country of the Visa Waiver Program is not the only eligibility criterion. Indeed, here are the different conditions required to obtain an ESTA:

  • have a valid electronic or biometric passport;
  • organize a temporary stay for tourism, business or transit on American soil before leaving for another country;
  • the stay in the USA must last a maximum of 90 days.

You therefore need to complete an ESTA form when you wish to make a temporary stay in the United States by air or sea. You do not meet all these conditions? It is then not possible for you to apply for an ESTA authorization to go to the USA. However, you can go to the US Embassy to apply for a US visa.

Where to apply for an ESTA?

In order to receive an ESTA, you must apply online on the US government site or on a private site offering the same service. You will need your valid passport, as many fields on the ESTA form relate to the information it contains. The ESTA request therefore goes through an online form. Note that you can obtain assistance and a simplified form by ordering your authorization on a specialized site.

When you have finished completing the ESTA questionnaire, you must pay the amount requested to validate the sending of your form. For this, you must have your credit card. This form is then analyzed by electronic systems. Sometimes travelers receive an almost instantaneous response, but it generally takes 72 hours maximum to get a response from the American authorities.

To find out your ESTA status, go to the government website with your application number and passport number. If the authorization request was made via a private site, you will receive the response by e-mail.