To be able to travel to the United States without having to apply for a VISA is undeniably an opportunity that cannot be missed. But while ESTA offers you this practical advantage, if you don't understand how it works, it could suddenly turn against you!
A young tourist paid the price. But before we talk to you about its tragic experience, let's see the all 4 rules to be respected in order to guarantee the validity of this special travel authorization your ESTA. You can also refer to the rules to know bout ESTA.
ESTA gives you 90 days on American soil! These 90 days, you will be able to use it as you wish: to consume it entirely during a single trip or spread over a longer period of time for multiple entries. 90 days nevertheless and not one more day!
Before your arrival, you will have to organize your return in such a way that you do not exceed the time limit, at the risk of having serious problems with the immigration service: deportation, arrest, banning your stay in the USA in the future, etc. You will not be able to leave the United States.
Your travel authorization to the United States is valid for two years from the day you obtain it. So, during this period, as long as you don't exceed your 90-day entitlement, you can travel to and from the USA without a Visa.
Be careful though! ESTA is no longer valid once your passport expires. When renewing your passport, you will no longer be able to use the old one; you will have to ask for a new one.
Once the two years have passed, you must leave the United States to return to your home country or elsewhere, but in any case outside the continent. Although it is possible to re-apply for ESTA online, this procedure can and should only be carried out outside the United States.
ESTA allows you to travel anywhere in the United States, but does not guarantee access to other U. S. territories. Submitting your form at the border crossing point will not allow you to travel North, South or Central America. This decision is the sole responsibility of the responsible immigration officer.
Also note that any stay, no matter how long it lasts, in the U. S. border countries is counted within the 90 days you are entitled to. If you spend a week in Mexico or a few days in Canada, these will be taken into account. They will be counted and deducted from your right of residence, even if you have not been in the United States.
By deciding to use ESTA to travel to the USA, you simultaneously waive all your rights! This very important detail is rarely mentioned when talking about the VISA waiver program, but that is the reality: this travel authorization does not give you any legal protection in the event of an arrest.
That's why you have no interest in exceeding your stay. Once arrested, you will be considered an illegal immigrant and even your Embassy and Consulate will not be able to intervene to help you. Having waived your right of recourse elsewhere, you will be entirely at the mercy of the U. S. immigration service, which will make you what it sees fit.
In addition, since January 21, 2016, new rules have been in place.
This person's story quickly travelled the web, as it is so moving. Having received a 90-day travel authorization, her misunderstanding of the system made this young tourist who loves to travel to the United States a victim of choice.
In short, she made the mistake of believing that to renew her ESTA, she only had to leave the United States! When her right to stay in the USA expired, the young woman decided to rent a car to go to San Diego, where she thought she could apply for a new permit.
Having taken this initiative without encountering any problems, when she once again exhausted what she thinks is her second ESTA, she decided to leave the United States to go to Mexico, where she intended to re-authorize a third authorization. That's where the problems begin!
She got arrested at the border by the immigration officials who inform her that she is in fact in an irregular situation. The young woman unknowingly committed a very long overrun of her stay. Unfortunately, having no valid reason to justify this delay, she is now in police custody.
She discovered that she had no rights after contacting her Embassy. Now considered and treated as any illegal immigrant, overnight, she finds herself imprisoned in a detention centre, forced to spend her days in a very small cell from which she is not even allowed to go out to do her own business, and with only the floor itself as her only berth!
In the end, she spent two months in these horrible conditions until the American immigration authorities finally decided to deport her. His small mistake cost him two months' imprisonment in the worst conditions, forced and particularly humiliating repatriation, but also a stay ban for five years!