Traveling to the United States requires certain paperwork. You will need a current passport from your country of citizenship. Depending on what your country of citizenship is, you may also need a visa or a visa waiver.
Visa waivers come from certain countries that participate in the USA visa waiver program. In order to qualify for the visa waiver, your trip will need to meet certain requirements. It must be travel round-trip from your country of origin or transit through to a non-adjacent country or territory. Your total time spent in the United States has to be less than 90 days, and the trip has to be for the purpose of business, pleasure, or transit – international students do not qualify for a visa waiver.
You must fill out an application using the ESTA visa waiver system on the Department of Homeland Security’s website. This application should only take you about 20 minutes to fill out. It costs USD$14 and you’ll need to have a credit card in order to pay this fee.
Your application can be denied even if your travel if eligible if you do not fill out the application properly. Failing to fill in a mandatory field or filling the application out inaccurately means that immigration agents will have to correct your application manually. This can lead to delays or outright denials of your waiver.
If you are denied a visa waiver, you can still qualify to travel to the US. You will simply have to apply for a full visa. This takes longer than getting a visa waiver, so plan ahead when you fill out your application. If you leave time in advance of your trip, you can fill out the required paperwork and still get your visa in time for your trip.
Visa waivers are a security measure for the people of the United States, but they aren’t that difficult for foreign travelers to obtain.