Usefulness of the ESTA
An ESTA authorization must be obtained before any trip to the USA. However, it does not guarantee entry into the United States. In the United States, the immigration services are the only ones who can validate an entry into the United States.
Mandatory since 2009, the ESTA document was created to make travel to the United States as safe as possible. Available to travelers under the Visa Waiver Program, the ESTA is available online on the U.S. government’s secure website.
Whether you are traveling as a couple, with your family or with a group of friends, you are required to fill out one ESTA form per person. Infants or minors must have their own ESTA USA authorization. To help you, read our article on how to obtain the ESTA USA.
Not having the same vocation as a visa, the ESTA document allows you :
- To stay in the United States for 90 days
- To go sightseeing alone or with a group
- To participate in social, sports, musical or cultural activities (but not paid)
- Enroll in courses as long as they don’t give you credit toward a university degree
If you are planning a business trip, you are entitled to :
- Participate in professional meetings, conferences and conventions
- Participate in short-term (unpaid) training
- Negotiate and sign contracts
Whatever your plans, this document is valid for two years or until the expiry of the passport used at the time of registration. It allows for multiple trips or transit through the U.S. during the same period as long as the traveler continues to comply with the 90-day maximum presence in the country.
To find out how to pay for your ESTA, you can read our corresponding article.