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In order to travel to the United States without the need for a visa, you will need to submit an ESTA authorization application. Of course, you will need to qualify for this program first, as not all countries are eligible. 


Either way, if you qualify to apply, you will be able to come to the U. S. without applying for a tourist visa or a B-1 business visa although, your stay in the country will be limited to a specific time.  

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What Is The ESTA authorization Application To Travel To The United States?

ESTA authorization is an automated system that evaluates the eligibility of foreigners to travel to the United States. Travelling will be carried out under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). 

ESTA does not determine whether a traveler is admissible to the U. S, as that is up to U. S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Instead, the application collects biographical information and answers to certain eligibility questions. 

An ESTA permit application can be submitted at any time before travel. However, it is recommended to apply as soon as possible or well before purchasing plane tickets.

What Is The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

The visa waiver program, or VWP, is a U. S. program that allows foreigners from certain countries to travel to the United States without the need for a visa. These trips can be for tourism or business purposes.

esta entry permit to the usa

What Is The Difference Between A U. S. Visa And An ESTA?

The ESTA authorization is not a visa. In fact, ESTA does not meet the legal requirements to replace any of the different types of American visas. This is because foreigners with a visa will only be able to enter the United States to fulfill the granted purpose.

It should be noted that foreigners with a valid visa will not need to apply for an ESTA. Furthermore, an approved ESTA permit does not guarantee admission to the country.

It is key to keep in mind that the ESTA permit is not a direct path to adjusting status or obtaining a Green Card. Therefore, if you wish to legalize your situation, we can help you evaluate your immigration possibilities.

Requirements For An ESTA authorization Application To Travel To The United States

To make good use of ESTA, you must meet the following requirements: 

  • Upon arrival, demonstrate your intention to leave the country by presenting a round-trip or transit ticket.
  • You pose no risk to health, safety or public order in the United States. In case you become a risk, even with a valid ESTA, entry could be denied.
  • Apply for an ESTA to travel to destinations such as Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U. S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • The ESTA is not enough if you have the nationality or have been in:
    • Iran, 
    • Syria, 
    • North Korea, 
    • Sudan, 
    • Yemen, 
    • Libya, or 
    • Somalia. If so, you would need a visa.
  • You cannot apply for an ESTA if you have been in Cuba after January 12, 2021. However, it is possible to apply for a visa.

When Do I Have To Renew The ESTA?

Regarding updating the ESTA, it is generally advisable to do it every two years. However, it is key to ensure that the information in the document is up to date, even if it has not yet passed two years since it was issued. 

That being said, we remind you that the length of your stay for each visit cannot exceed 90 days.

If you have questions about your ESTA renewal or the application process, we recommend:

  1. Contacting the nearest U. S. embassy or consulate, or
  2. Getting in touch directly with us. Our immigration attorneys at Lluis Law will help you with your immigration process.
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What Documents Do I Need To Submit The ESTA Permit Application To Travel To The United States?

If you are eligible to travel to the United States via VWP, you will need a valid passport valid for at least 6 months from the date of your travel. However, some countries are exempt from this requirement. This is because they may have some specific agreement signed with the U. S. for such an exemption.

Upon entering the United States, an official at a port of entry will provide you with a Form I-94W. This form contains an electronic record of your check-in date. 

Other information you should have on hand includes:

  • Valid email address.
  • Payment method.
  • Telephone and email of the emergency contact point.
  • Home.
  • Phone number.
  • DNI or personal identification number (if applicable).
  • Information about your alias or other names (if applicable).
  • Global entry identification number, SENTRI or NEXUS, if possible.

Who Needs To Apply For An ESTA Permit?

All eligible citizens of countries participating in the VWP program who intend to travel to the U. S. for business or pleasure on a temporary basis. 

It should be noted that the reference to “U. S.” covers:

  • The continental territory, 
  • Alaska, 
  • Hawaii, 
  • Puerto Rico, 
  • Guam, 
  • The United States Virgin Islands, and 
  • The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
esta permission to enter the united states

Even children, whether traveling accompanied or unaccompanied, regardless of their age, must obtain separate ESTA approval. In the case of minors, the request must be submitted by a:

  • Third person, 
  • Family member, or
  • Travel agent, on behalf of the traveler participating in the VWP program.

Countries Eligible For An ESTA Authorization Application To Travel To The United States In 2024

The list of countries belonging to the VWP program includes:

  • Germany.
  • Andorra.
  • Australia.
  • Austria.
  • Belgium.
  • Brunei.
  • Chile.
  • South Korea.
  • Croatia.
  • Denmark.
  • Slovenia.
  • Slovakia.
  • Spain.
  • Estonia.
  • Finland.
  • France.
  • Greece.
  • Netherlands.
  • Hungary.
  • Iceland.
  • Ireland.
  • Israel.
  • Italy.
  • Japan.
  • Latvia.
  • Liechtenstein.
  • Lithuania.
  • Luxembourg.
  • Malt.
  • Monaco.
  • Norway.
  • New Zealand.
  • Poland.
  • Portugal.
  • United Kingdom.
  • Czech Republic.
  • Taiwan.
  • San Marino.
  • Singapore.
  • Sweden.
  • Switzerland.

What happens if you overstay your visa? Find out more about this in our article.

For What Reasons May My ESTA Authorization To Travel To The United States Be Denied?

You may be denied your ESTA permit application for any of the following reasons: 

  • You answered “Yes” to any of the permit eligibility questions.
  • You have a criminal record.
  • You have previously been denied an ESTA application, subsequent ones may also be rejected.
  • Your last name may be considered suspicious.
  • In the past you were deported from the United States for any reason.
  • Your nationality does not belong to any of the 40 nations included in the visa waiver program.
  • Your planned stay in the United States is longer than 90 days.
  • In recent years you have been to Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, North Korea and Cuba.

If your application was rejected due to an error, you must wait at least 10 days to submit a new one. That said, among the most common mistakes are:

  • The compilation of the data,
  • A session interruption, or 
  • A malfunction of your credit card.
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What Do I Do If My ESTA Application Has Been Denied?

If your ESTA application was denied, then you will need to apply for a visa. If you are also ineligible for a visa, you are likely inadmissible to the U. S. If this is the case, you may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility.

If your application has been denied, we recommend contacting our immigration lawyers in Los Angeles. Our experts will be able to help you with your immigration requirements.

How Can I Find Out Why My ESTA application Was Rejected?

Unfortunately, U. S. embassies and consulates cannot provide details on ESTA permit denials. 

What’s more, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) meticulously developed this program to ensure that only certain individuals are eligible.

That said, those who pose a risk to national security or U. S. law will be denied ESTA. 

It is worth noting that the ESTA website offers a link to the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP). However, there is no guarantee that an application for relief under this program will resolve ineligibility for the VWP.

How Long Does It Take To Approve An ESTA Authorization?

Are you wondering how long it takes to give you the ESTA? Well, once you submit the application form, you will have to wait up to 72 hours to find out if you have been authorized. 

Either way, you can use the information on the form to check the status of the procedure at any time.

How Long Can I Stay In The United States With ESTA?

Once the ESTA application is approved, it is valid for two years. This will allow multiple visits to the United States during that period without the need to apply again. 

This authorization gives the possibility of traveling to the United States for up to 90 days on each visit. Therefore, as this date approaches, you must leave the country.

For those whose passports expire in less than two years, ESTA will be valid until the passport expiration date.

Now that you know the limitations of ESTA authorization, it is important that you abide by its conditions of stay. If you do not do so and decide to stay longer than allowed, you will have to face the consequences of unlawful presence in the U. S.

Where To Get The ESTA To Travel To The United States?

The ESTA authorization is managed online and can be done from the comfort of home or from anywhere else. But you will need to have Internet access to do so. In other words, you as a foreigner can obtain the ESTA from Spain, Chile or any other country belonging to the VWP.

esta eligible countries

Can I Apply For An ESTA Permit To Travel To The United States In 2024 If I Am In Spain?

Yes, Spain is part of one of the countries belonging to the VWP. That said, Spanish citizens can travel to the US visa-free with a digital passport, but not with a provisional one. 

It should be noted that since 2010, airlines have verified its obtaining. Additionally, there is a processing fee of $4, if approved, there will be another of $10.

What Can I Do If My Passport Information Has Changed?

If there are changes to a traveler’s passport information, it is necessary to apply for a new travel authorization through ESTA. Additionally, a new travel authorization is required if you: 

  • Get a new passport, 
  • Change your name, gender, or country of citizenship, or 
  • If the circumstances related to the previous answers in the ESTA application requiring a “yes” or “no” answer have changed. 

Note: A fee will apply for each new request submitted.

How To Apply For ESTA Authorization To Travel To The United States?

Before submitting the ESTA permit application, you must consult the list of countries participating in the VWP. If you are eligible for the permit, you must follow the following steps:

  1. Verify that your passport meets the program requirements, that is, having an electronic passport or “e-Passport” with a chip.
  2. Complete the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) form online and select “English” from the top menu. Once this is done, the application will determine your eligibility to enter the United States.
  3. Please pay the $4 fee to process the application. If approved, an additional fee of $17 will apply for the issuance of the permit. CBP displays the payment options available for this permit on its website . 
  4. After submitting the form, you will receive an ESTA application confirmation number. Please use this information to check the status of your application. 

When Do I Have To Apply For ESTA To Travel To The United States?

You have 72 hours before your flight to complete the ESTA form. However, we recommend not leaving this process until the last minute. ESTA is valid for 24 months or until your passport expires. 

Once your ESTA application is accepted, you will be allowed to enter the United States. You will do so in periods of a maximum of 90 consecutive days, during the following two years. Therefore, we insist that you apply for ESTA before planning your trip.

Typically, the Visa Waiver Program’s electronic system will provide you with a response within minutes, although it may take up to 72 hours.

Frequently Asked Questions About Applying For ESTA Authorization To Travel To The United States

Is it possible to enter the United States multiple times with the same ESTA?

Yes, the ESTA application is usually valid for two years, allowing you to travel to the United States on multiple occasions. However, it is important not to exceed 180 days of stay in the country during the same year.

Can someone else apply for ESTA for me?

Yes. What’s more, you can tell your friends, family, travel agency employees or other individuals to complete the form on your behalf. However, you are solely responsible for the accuracy of the information provided.

How much does ESTA cost?

The ESTA form itself is free. However, validating, sending and processing the application does have an associated cost. That said, the fee is split into two parts, one for the State Department and the other to cover the process. In case of denial, the full amount will be refunded to the card used.

Do travelers under VWP need to bring a printed copy of their approved ESTA to the airport?

There’s no need. This is because DHS notifies carriers of their approved ESTA. However, it is advisable to print your application response as it will serve as proof to confirm your status.

Expert Lawyers In Applying For ESTA Authorization To Travel To The United States

With more than 50 years of combined experience, our immigration attorneys at Lluis Law will be at your disposal. This is because carrying out any immigration procedure is not easy. Furthermore, a single mistake could complicate the entire process and lead to denial.

From representation before the Los Angeles immigration court, to requesting cancellation of removal, we will be with you from start to finish. 


If you are planning to make an ESTA permit application and have any questions, please call us. In our personalized consultation we help individuals better understand the application form. We have been offering legal services to those who wish to immigrate to the US for more than 40 years. 

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