ESTA APPROVAL & U.S ENTRY ELIGIBILITY

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If you are planning to enter the U.S. under the VWP (Visa Waiver Program), then you must get ESTA approval, and meet the entry requirements of the DHS. 

Electronic System For Travel Authorization(ESTA) Approval and the VWP 

Traveling to the United States as a non-citizen is a formidable task. Unless you obtain the best possible legal assistance, you will not be able to avoid the hassle, tension, and stress that comes with it. Even if you do get the best immigration lawyers around, you still may not go through the process completely unscathed. You’ll have to worry about what type of visa you’ll need, and how much it’s going to cost. Not to mention the requirements, rules, and time it’ll take to get approval – if the visa gets approved in the first place. All these worries will have you downcast before you even take the first step. 

But what if there was a chance? A chance that you could avoid more than half of these worries, and even possibly enter the U.S. easier and faster? It may sound far fetched if you’re unaware, but it’s a real opportunity. And this tiny window of opportunity is the Visa Waiver Program(VWP). 

The Visa Waiver Program(VWP) 

The VWP is a program administered by the DOS(Department Of State) and the DHS(Department Of Homeland Security). It allows citizens of 39 included countries to enter and stay in the U.S. for tourism and business without a Visa for 90 days(at most). While traveling to the U.S. under the VWP program takes less effort than traveling after obtaining a visa, it still has its own conditions. 

To gain entry and continue your stay in the U.S. under the VWP, you will be subject to individual security vetting before your travel(via ESTA), and at the entry point of the U.S. The DHS and DoS use this approach to strengthen national security. So, as long as you do not pose any security risks to the U.S., you will undoubtedly be admitted. 

Electronic System For Travel Authorization(ESTA) 

Travelers coming into the United States via the Visa Waiver Program(VWP) must get online approval before their travel.  This online approval system is operated by the DHS, and it is called ESTA(Electronic System For Travel Authorization). 

ESTA is an electronic automated system that screens travellers to determine their eligibility to travel under the VWP. Simply put, ESTA is the travel authorization for the Visa Waiver Program. Importantly, ESTA is not a visa. 

Getting ESTA Approval and Eligibility for  U.S. Entry 

Simply filing your ESTA form prior to your travel doesn’t mean that you are admissible to the U.S.- This is just the start. It may come as a surprise, but the VWP is administered mainly for U.S. law enforcement and national security. So, in order for you to gain entry into the U.S., you must pass two individual security checks : 

  • Before your arrival. 
  • At the entry port. 

ESTA Screening And Approval Before Your Arrival 

The Department Of Homeland Security uses ESTA to screen incoming travelers for any security risks before their travel into the United States. The DHS will screen your ESTA application in line with various law enforcement databases. Your application will be screened against any prior Visa refusals, Visa revocations, lost and stolen passports, and terrorist databases. 

Getting your ESTA application screened and approved may seem hard, but it’s easy if you always obey the law, and stay out of trouble. If you pose a security threat to U.S. security directly or indirectly, you will not get ESTA approval. However, if you do get your application approved, you may begin your travel to the U.S. to face the second procedure at the port of entry. 

At The Port of Entry 

After getting ESTA approval and traveling to the U.S., you will need to pass a biometrics screening at the port of entry. Your biometrics will be screened and checked against watch lists. This final procedure is meant to verify your identity before admitting you to the United States. 

Once you pass both procedures of pre-screening and pre-approval, you will then be permitted to enter the U.S. 

Let’s Make Your Journey Easier! 

Prior to your arrival in the U.S. under the VWP, your history will be screened. If you have a dent in your records or are related to someone who poses a security threat to the U.S., your ESTA application may not be approved. You won’t even be permitted to reach the entry port, much less step foot into the U.S. Once this happens, your hopes of tourism or business as an international visitor in the U.S. will be crushed. 

To prevent this, the most reliable thing to do is to: not break the law! When it comes to national security, the U.S. government is not to be trifled with. If you’re a visitor in the U.S., do not violate U.S. immigration laws, and do not associate with any party that may be a threat to U.S. national security. If you have a bad record, it is hard to escape from it. So, it’s best not to have one in the first place. 

That being said, not everything goes according to plan, especially in U.S. immigration. If you find yourself stuck with a bad record, or you need help getting ESTA approval, contact us at The HMA Law Firm. 

If you have a dent in your records, our attorneys will take up your case, and advocate for the best possible outcome for you. There’s still hope! But know that nothing will change without professional intervention! 

So, call us today, and discuss with our attorneys! 

FAQS 

What countries are included in the Visa Waiver Program(VWP)? 

There are 39 countries currently participating in the VWP, and you can find them by clicking here

How do I apply for ESTA? 

You can file the Electronic System For Travel Authorization(ESTA) by visiting the official website, answering the questions provided, and submitting the application. Note: It must be done prior to your travel to the U.S. 

How much does it cost to file an ESTA application 

Travelers coming to the U.S. via the Visa Waiver Program(VWP), are to pay the ESTA fees of US$14. 

For how long is ESTA approval Valid? 

An ESTA application upon approval is valid for 2 years, or until your passport expires. 

How can I be eligible to enter the U.S. under the VWP? 

Gaining approval to enter the United States does not simply end at submitting an ESTA application. You still have two procedures to pass, and what you really need to do so, is professional legal assistance. So, contact The HMA Law Firm for expert guidance. 

We have extremely experienced immigration lawyers ready on the double to give your case the attention it needs. Check with us first! Schedule a consultation with us and become admissible to the U.S. 

Reach out to us by jumping on a call, or filling our contact form!

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