ESTA Visa New York

If you are preparing the trip of a lifetime, don't forget to apply for an ESTA visa to enter the United States as a tourist. It's quick and easy: in this article I explain how you can do it online.

ESTA Visa New York

At the airport | ©Ashim D Silva

If you are traveling to New York and are a European citizen, it is imperative that you apply for an ESTA in order to enter the United States. Below I explain how you can get yours quickly and easily.

1. What is ESTA?

Passport| ©Unsplash

The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a permit issued by the US government that allows you to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 non-extendable days for vacation or business trips. If the reason for the trip is study or journalism (among other reasons), it is necessary to apply for a special visa, as the ESTA is only an authorization to enter the United States as a tourist or for business purposes.

For example, if you are Spanish, French, German, Italian, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish or English (among other nationalities), you do not need a tourist or business visa to travel to the United States thanks to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). All you need is an ESTA, which will save you a lot of paperwork!

2. Where to apply for an ESTA visa?

Apply through the official website. The process only takes a few minutes, but please note that:

  • You can apply for it up to 72 hours before you enter the United States.
  • You must pay the fee of $14 by credit or debit card.
  • You must be in possession of a machine readable passport.
  • You will need your personal and contact information, as well as information about your current employment, if applicable.

3. Which ESTA visa should I apply for??

Preparing to travel| ©Annie Spratt

All travelers to the United States must apply for their own ESTA and complete the online form, including children.

However, you can choose to apply for an ESTA for an individual or for a group if you are traveling to the United States as a family, with colleagues or with friends. In case of a group, the electronic system will ask you for a contact person and give you the possibility to manage and pay several ESTAs at the same time.

And even if you are applying for the ESTA for a group, if there is an incident with one of the applications within the group, you can always print your own ESTA separately.

4. How to fill in the ESTA?

Fill out the visa online| ©Christin Hume

Once you have selected the most suitable ESTA for you, you will need to fill out the form step by step:

  • Go to the official website and select the language of your choice.
  • Click on "New Application and then choose between "Single Application and "Group application". Read the security notice that appears and click on "Confirm and Proceed.
  • Fill in the "Applicant information" field from. Here you must provide your personal information (passport number, personal information, and employment information), contact information for when you will be in New York (they need to know in advance where you will be staying in the city), and a series of personal questions that you must answer truthfully because if you withhold information and the authorities find out, you will not be able to enter the United States.
  • Submit the application. In this step, you confirm that you do not want to apply if you are not allowed to enter the United States at the security checkpoint. Check that all the answers are correct, make the necessary corrections and confirm the final submission of the application.
  • Please note: The system generates a number when you submit your application. Write down or print out the application number, as you will need it later to check the status of the process or in case you need to change your information at a later date.
  • Make the payment. There is a $14 fee to apply for the ESTA for New York, which you must pay by debit or credit card, Mastercard or Visa, on the spot through the website.

5. How far in advance should I apply for the ESTA?

Filling out the visa| ©

The saying goes, "What you can do today, don't put off until tomorrow". My advice and that of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is to apply for the ESTA as soon as you plan your trip to the country. Once you have a flight and accommodations, the next step is to submit an ESTA application.

However, if you are one of those travelers who likes to wing it, keep in mind that you must apply for the ESTA at least 72 hours before your trip. This is the maximum time the system could take to reject or accept your application.

Also, be aware that your application may be rejected and you may need to apply for a US visa instead, which is more difficult to obtain and takes more time and effort than a simple online form. Therefore, I recommend you to do this as soon as possible.

Isabel's Travel Tip

Once you have booked your flights and hotel, remember to purchase travel insurance. Health care is very expensive in the United States, and to avoid nasty surprises, insurance is essential.

6. How do I know if I have received ESTA authorization or not??

Map of the United States| ©Joey Csunyo

Once the request is made, the electronic system usually responds immediately with an answer, which may be as follows:

  • Approved permit. Although it is not mandatory and you will not be asked for it, we recommend that you save the authorization (and the application number) in your cell phone.
  • The approval is still pending. You will receive a reply within 72 hours. The next step is to return to the home page and click on "Check application in progress" to click. To verify that you have received ESTA approval, you will be asked for your application number, date of birth, and passport number.
  • Authorization denied. This does not mean that you cannot enter the country, but that you cannot travel to the United States with an ESTA authorization. In this case, you will need to apply for a visa at the nearest embassy or consulate.

7. How long is the ESTA valid?

United States flag| ©Joshua Hoehne

An approved ESTA is generally valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. However, this does not mean that you can stay in the United States for two years.

The ESTA can be used for stays of up to 90 days, which cannot be cumulatively extended to a 12-month period. So if a traveler recently obtained an ESTA and stayed in the country for 90 days and then returned to their home country, they will have to wait 12 months before they can use their ESTA again.

However, the traveler can still apply for a visa if he or she wants to travel to the country again within 12 months of his or her previous 90-day stay.

What happens if I extend the ESTA for more than 90 days in the United States?

You could be in trouble! Unlawful extension of stay granted by an ESTA will likely result in refoulement and deportation at the U.S. border. In addition, doing so could have a negative impact on the approval of any visa applications you may have.

If you plan to stay in New York or the country for more than 90 days, it's best to apply for a U.S. visa.

Should I apply for a new ESTA if I already have a valid one?

If you already have an approved and valid ESTA from a previous trip, it is not required unless your personal and travel information has changed since your last visit. This means that if you have renewed your passport and it now has a different number, or if you have changed your marital status or address, you will need to update your ESTA file so that you can use it again.

8. Does an ESTA guarantee me entry to New York?

New York to enjoy| ©Hellotickets

Having an ESTA or a travel authorization for the United States does not necessarily mean that you will be allowed to enter the country, because the security officer you meet at immigration control at the airport has the final say.

Americans take national security very seriously. Therefore, to avoid problems, you should only answer what you have indicated on your ESTA form and be polite during the inspection.

Another important recommendation I can give you when planning your trip is to purchase a good travel medical insurance policy. If your insurance does not cover you when traveling abroad, learn how to get health insurance for New York here.

9. Do I need to print out the ESTA visa??

Prepared documentation| ©Kelly Sikkema

The ESTA application is electronically transmitted to U.S. authorities for them to review and decide whether to approve or deny it. Since it is electronic, there is no need to print out the ESTA document and present it when you land in New York.

While it is not mandatory, it never hurts to carry a printed copy of the confirmation email informing you that your application has been approved, as this email contains a file number that you can use later on. Keep it in a safe place after printing it out.

10. Do I need an ESTA if I have a layover in New York?

Waiting at the airport| ©Marco Lopez

That's right. The ESTA is mandatory for travelers boarding a flight or ship to the United States, whether or not that is your final destination. That is, both for a stopover where you don't leave the airport and for a transit through the country. The reason for this is that when you change planes in the United States, you must go through immigration, collect your luggage and check in again, even if the connecting flight is an international flight.

11. Can I travel to New York without ESTA?

Closed sign| ©Tim-Mossholder

If your trip starts first in Canada or Mexico and then takes you to New York, you do not need an ESTA if you are entering the United States via a land border. It is only required if you are trying to enter the country by sea or air.

However, you must have a valid passport and complete Form I-94W, which will be given to you at the border crossing point. This green colored document is attached to the passport and must be presented when leaving the country.

The I-94W form allows a stay in the U.S. of up to 90 days, as does the ESTA, counting stays in other countries as well. I therefore do not recommend exceeding the limit to set the day counter to zero.

12. Can I apply for the ESTA in a travel agency or through another intermediary website? If it is valid?

Working| ©Annie Spratt

There are companies that specialize in applying for the ESTA in exchange for money. However, I do not recommend them because they charge travelers very high fees even though it is a very simple procedure. However, if you have already paid a website to fill out the ESTA application and you want to know if it is valid, you can only check the official website with the application number to see if it has been approved.

13. What happens if I make a mistake, and can I change the application?

Working in a group| ©John-Schnobrich

Only two fields can be changed: the address where you will be staying in the United States and your email address. If you want to fill in the rest of the information (passport number, name, dates, etc.), you can do so in the "First name" field.), you must apply for a new ESTA and pay for it again. The valid ESTA is always the most current.

Can I put a compound name in the ESTA application??

In the "First name" field you can enter your first name or both names if you have a compound name.

My name has the letter n or accents, should I put them?

The ESTA form does not accept this type of characters. If your name contains the letter n, write N and do not use accents.

Should I write one or both last names?

If you have two last names, enter both in the Last Name section a.

What do I need to enter in the ESTA form if I am unemployed?

The US government wants to prevent illegal immigration with the excuse that you only want to be in the country as a tourist. For this reason, it is very practical to have a job at the time of your trip to New York, because even if you are visiting New York on vacation, this is one of the most important requirements for applying for the ESTA.

On the ESTA form, you must provide information about your previous or current employer, d. h. if you are unemployed, you must indicate your last place of employment.

What if I am a homemaker or retiree?

  • Housewife: If you have worked for a company in the past, provide this data. Otherwise, answer "No, and if you are asked at the security check, indicate that you are a housewife.
  • Retired: provide the details of your most recent employment. In the job title you can put "retired" put in parentheses to indicate that you are retired.

How to fill in the ESTA if I am self-employed?

If you are self-employed, write "Self-employed" in the field for the name of the employer and enter your data in the other fields.

14. Can the United States deny me an ESTA if I have been to certain countries??

Prohibition sign| ©Mark Rohan

Effective. The United States may allow citizens of countries that do not require a tourist visa, but who wish to visit on or after 1. March 2011 (inclusive) in certain areas, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Libya, Sudan, Yemen, or Somalia, deny the ESTA.

The ESTA will not be approved unless you are traveling for government or military reasons. In this case you can travel to New York with the ESTA, but you have to prove the reason for your stay.

If you are traveling for humanitarian or journalistic reasons, your only option is to apply for a tourist visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.

15. What happens if my ESTA expires while I'm in the United States?

On the road| ©Gabrielle Henderson

In order to enter the country, your passport must be valid for the duration of your trip, as you will not be allowed to enter the country if it expires one day before your return flight. However, ESTA regulations allow entry into the U.S. even if the passport expires before departure, as long as it is still valid.

However, I recommend that your ESTA is valid for the duration of your stay to ensure that you do not have any problems at customs or even at the airport of departure, as many airlines make sure that passengers have everything in order before boarding the plane.

As I said before, the ESTA does not guarantee entry into the United States, as the final decision rests with the security officer who will be attending to you upon arrival.

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