Your bags are ready, your plane tickets are booked, you are ready to leave for Uncle Sam's country. But have you thought about your travel authorization? The ESTA form is a mandatory formality if you are going to visit the USA for less than 90 days.
To travel to the United States, as well as to transit the visa waiver is an easy formality reserved for nationals of the 37 authorized countries.
Once there, no change of status can be made as is the case for certain VISAs. This means that you must leave the USA before your ESTA expires. Of course, ESTA cannot lead to a green card under any circumstances. Be careful to respect the obligations of ESTA.
First of all, ESTA being an exemption from VISA, know that if you already have a valid VISA, you do not need ESTA. You can travel to the USA with your VISA if the purpose of your trip corresponds to the type of valid VISA (e. g., it would be risky to travel to the USA for a tourist with an intern VISA: immigration officers may be suspicious and in the worst case, may not let you pass).
You must apply for ESTA if you meet the following conditions:
• You do not have a valid VISA.
• You are one of the 37 countries participating in the ESTA programme.
• Your trip is a tourist or business trip (conferences, contract signature).
• You stay in the United States for a maximum of 90 days or you transit through the USA.
• Your passport is valid at the time of your entry into the United States.
• Your passport is a biometric, electronic or optical reader passport issued before 26 October 2005.
If any of these conditions do not apply to you, then you are not eligible for the VISA waiver and will need to apply for a VISA from the US authorities.
The United States is very strict and strict when it comes to VISA. For example, we strongly advise against working in the United States without a VISA. If you are caught, you risk permanent ban. If you want to do an internship in the USA, make a VISA J1 even if some companies offer you to come and work for them with an ESTA.
VISA costs a company a lot of money, and some companies that don't want to pay a penny will ask you to come without a VISA and pay you for it. It is very risky, and of course we advise you to refuse and offer them to make you a VISA J1. This VISA will cost them money, but at least you leave legally, for a longer period of time (up to 24 months) and you will be covered (health insurance) for the duration of your internship.
The visa exemption or ESTA only applies to the 37 countries that have signed the Visa Waiver Program. Nationals of other countries must apply for a visa to enter the United States.
Minors must also complete an ESTA form, regardless of their age. To enter the United States, your children must have their own valid travel authorization.
In the case of transit through the United States, the ESTA authorization is mandatory. If you cannot obtain it, you will need to apply for a VISA.