US Tourist Visa
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US Tourist Visa

The US notoriously has some pretty stringent entry requirements when it comes to trying to get into the country. For many nationalities, it’s necessary to complete a full visa application to enter the USA, even as a tourist on a brief visit. A few dozen nationalities face lower entry requirements when visiting the States. This includes many countries in Europe, but also others including Japan and Singapore. If you have a passport that enables you to visit the country without a full US travel visa, then you should only need to complete the ESTA travel application before visiting the US. It’s like a shortcut to a US travel visa for certain nationalities.

Applying for a USA holiday visa

If you’re from one of the ‘visa waiver’ countries and have a valid passport from that country, you may only need to complete an ESTA application ahead of your trip. The ESTA will act as your USA holiday visa. ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization, and it enables you to travel to the US for up to 90 days without needing to complete the entire US tourist visa application (which takes much longer) and needs to be done further in advance.

ESTA was originally introduced a few years ago to help some nationalities travel to the US at short notice. This helps some business travellers, and also boosts the US tourist industry. Although it’s an easier application to complete compared to a full travel visa, the DHS aren’t very forgiving if you get things wrong. It’s best to be really precise when completing your ESTA just to be on the safe side. If it isn’t properly completed in good time, your trip may be in jeopardy. You may not even be able to board your plane to the US without a valid ESTA travel application number.

To complete an ESTA application, bear in mind the following:

– you need to have a valid passport from a visa waiver country. There are about 40 countries on the list. You don’t need to be travelling from that country but your passport must be from one of the visa waiver countries.
– you must be intending to stay in the US for fewer than 90 days (about three months). The US authorities may in fact insist that you can prove you will definitely leave the country after 90 days, for example by showing your return flight is booked.
– apply in good time! You must apply earlier than 72 hours before you stay your trip to the US, and you can complete the application up to 6 months ahead of departure.

Additionally:

– there’s no possibility of extending your visit on an ESTA visa. If you need to stay longer, then you’ll need to leave the country and re-apply.
– you need to have a modern passport that can be scanned. If you haven’t renewed your passport for many years, you may want to check this.
– you may also need to show that you have enough money to last you for the duration of your visit.
– the list of visa waiver countries does change regularly, so keep an eye on it if you’re planning a US trip to ensure you don’t get caught out by a change in the rules.

How to apply

It’s straightforward to complete your US tourist visa application using the ESTA process, but it’s important to get the details right so that you don’t have any problems getting into the country. To complete the application, you’ll need to make sure you have a valid passport that will cover you for at least the duration of your stay, plus your travel details. We offer a service that will thoroughly check your application to the Department of Homeland Security to make sure it’s all correct before it is sent. We can advise on the best way to complete the form if you’re in any doubt about the process.

We will check your tourist visa USA application very speedily and let you know if there’s any missing information, ensuring you get through the process speedily and don’t face delays travelling. We offer fast turnaround, but it’s still important to apply early – remember you have to apply a minimum of three days in advance of your trip to the US.

At the end of your application process, we’ll send you your successful ESTA application number that should see you through at customs without any problem. Remember that you cannot embark on your boat or plane unless you already have the ESTA application number, it’s not something you can do on arrival. It’s best not to leave things to chance as the DHS are pretty strict with their US tourist visa rules.