A Quick Guide to Update Your ESTA
The United States is one of the most frequent destinations of travellers, whether be it for pleasure, business, study, or even a short flight layover. The bulk of foreigners coming and going in the country has been on a steady rise since the 90s when the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) was first introduced.
The VWP is part of the US’ government’s objective to strengthen diplomatic ties with other countries by allowing citizens to go to the US even without the commonly-required travel visa for foreigners. The move has not only helped the country’s tourism sector, but it has also enhanced mechanisms for safe and legal travel to the country. From a handful of countries, there are now 37 that are part of the VWP and whose citizens enjoy the benefit of a visa-free travel for at most 90 days.
Instead of a travel visa, citizens of countries who wish to visit the US under the VWP should apply for a travel authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). With just the ESTA, they can be allowed to check in and board a flight bound for the US.
The conveniences of the ESTA
The ESTA is seen as a more convenient alternative for a number of reasons:
- This can apply for most travel purposes and convenient for those attending business meetings, going to conferences or a workshop, joining a short course, or taking part in an exchange or internship program.
- Travellers who are passing through the US as part of their layover need only to have the authorization instead of the visa.
- Last-minute travellers and those who need to go urgently to the US for emergency reasons can have their authorization ready in just a matter of hours.
- The ESTA is online, the requirements are fewer and the cost of application is relatively cheaper compared to that of a visa.
- One need not have complete travel details yet when applying for the ESTA like a hotel booking and a travel itinerary. These items can later be filled in and updated once the ESTA has been granted, therefore saving travellers from unnecessary cost should there be changes in flight details.
How to get your ESTA
You only need to have ready a machine-readable passport and a credit card for the processing of application fee. You also need to have satisfied the visitor requirements under the VWP, and this means providing the necessary information required in the ESTA application form.
Everything is available online and the application is also handled online.
Upon submission of your application, you will be given an
application number that you can use to check on the status of your request.
Authorizations may be granted immediately, while in some cases, you may need to wait for at most 72 hours before it is released.
Why Should You Update Your ESTA
Updating, renewal or application for a new authorization is subject to two conditions:
When the prescribed 2 years validity of the ESTA has lapsed.
When a new passport is issued. This is because the information on your authorization should correspond to the information indicated on your passport. If changes in the passport were made, such as a change in your name or in the date of issue and expiration, you need to have your ESTA information updated, therefore a new application.
For more questions about the ESTA, there is available customer service 24/7 that provides unlimited ESTA support.
One thing to remember about the ESTA is that it does not guarantee automatic entry into the US. While it grants you visa exemption so you can board a flight to the US, the immigration officer at the port of entry still decides whether to grant you entry or not.