The difference between ESTA and a visa

Travelling to the US often requires prior permission from the US - such as a visa. But what other permits are offered besides a visa?

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The Difference Between ESTA and Visa

Many people from all over the world who want to travel to America must apply for a Visa, which allows them to enter the country for a specified amount of time. Some people from certain countries do not have to apply for a Visa, and they can enter the United States with a special ESTA. There are many who confuse the two and think a Visa and an ESTA are the same thing, and if you are one of them, it is time to set things straights and find out the important difference between a Visa and an ESTA

What is an ESTA?

An ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a permit that allows people to travel to America without a Visa. The ESTA can be obtained via a VWP (Visa Waiver Program), and there are currently 38 countries whose citizens are eligible to submit an ESTA request.

How is the ESTA Different from a Visa?

There are several differences between a Visa and an ESTA, and these are the main ones that you should know about:

1. Application and acceptance process – people, who wish to get a Visa to USA, can apply for the permit online, and the same goes for an ESTA. However, to get a Visa, you must go to the American embassy in your country of residence to complete the application process. You do not have to do the same with an ESTA because the entire application and acceptance process can be completed online.

2. Traveling the USA – people who live in VWP countries, or have a VWP passport (many of which are European countries) can travel the United States without a Visa. People who do not live in VWP countries must apply for a Visa, and cannot travel the United States without a Visa.

3. Travel time – people who have an ESTA cannot travel to the United States for a period that exceeds 90 days. People with Visa can travel/stay in the country for longer periods (1 to 6 months or 10 years).

4. Requirements – to get an ESTA, one must have a valid passport, and e-mail address and a debit or a credit card. Getting a Visa is a lengthier process, and to get the permit, one must have a valid passport with six months validity, a complete DS 160 application form, and a receipt proving the Visa has been paid for.

A Visa and an ESTA both allow people to travel to the US, but there are several differences between the two. The biggest difference is the application process, which is easier, shorter and cheaper with the ESTA, and that is why many people choose to have this permit over a Visa.



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