Anyone wishing to travel to the USA for a tourist or business trip must complete the administrative formalities for the issue of the ESTA. This document is an electronic certificate of authorization to stay in the United States exempting you from visa.
You must therefore take steps to obtain it within 72 hours before your departure, whether by sea or air. To know more about the ESTA, read the following article: What is ESTA?. When you board the ship, you will be required to present it.
In the Visa Waiver Program countries, ESTA has been put in place to control entry into the United States while easing the burden on authorities through a simplified inspection system.
You will need to complete a questionnaire to obtain your travel authorization. This document can only be filled out online on the official website or on dedicated partner sites.
Once your questionnaire has been sent, your request will be processed by the administration provided that you have paid the administrative fees between 10 euros and 80 euros. You will get an answer by e-mail within a very variable time from 20 minutes to 72 hours. In any case, if you are not in possession of the ESTA, you will not be able to board. You will be able to follow the progress of your application by indicating your status.
Your status will tell you where your file is. Until you have "accepted" status, you cannot access your ESTA. If you are in "refused" status, you will not be able to leave for the United States. On the other hand, "pending" status simply indicates that the authorities are considering your application. You only have to wait for their final decision, which will be notified to you by email.
If you have already had an ESTA document, this does not mean that the renewal will be done automatically. You must re-apply when your title has expired and pay the fee again. As for the first time, the same conditions apply to obtain a valid passport, a stay of less than 90 days and never having been expelled from the United States, or having a criminal record with them.
There are great differences between VISA and ESTA. While ESTA is issued for leisure or business trip of up to 90 days, the visa is available in a multitude of possibilities depending on the purpose of your trip and its intended duration. So, you need to know what document the U. S. authorities are asking for.
As much as the visa requires an appointment at the American embassy, ESTA does not require a visit to this place. To find out where you should go to apply for your ESTA, you must follow the steps to set up your file.
Your ESTA may be refused by the American authorities. In case your ESTA is refused, you have other possibilities to go to the USA as you planned.
When you follow the progress of your case, you can see three statuses as you process your application. You will have the status accepted, rejected or pending ESTA. For this last report, you need to know what exactly this means.
At the end of the validity period, you must ask for an ESTA renewal. To do this, you must know the procedures to be carried out with the American authorities.
To obtain your ESTA, you will have to answer a questionnaire. Your answers will be studied to find out if you meet the conditions for obtaining the ESTA to stay on American soil.
You might also want to read about hte hypothetical ESTA coming in Europe.