ESTA or Visa: What documents are needed to go to the United States?


Going to the United States: do I need a visa?

PTo go to the United States, it is not mandatory to have a VISA. Depending on your situation, you must apply for a VISA or an ESTA application. Visa and ESTA are therefore both an authorization to enter American soil.

When to apply for a Visa?

A Visa is an official document that allows foreigners to legally enter a country, it is issued by the competent authorities of this country. The need for a visa to travel depends on the nationality of the foreigner, the country of destination and the purpose of his trip.
In the case of a national of the Schengen area, in particular a French national wishing to go to the United States, a visa is compulsory in the following cases:

  • The traveler wishes to stay more than 90 days in the United States;
  • The traveler plans to live or study in the United States;
  • The traveler wishes to work for an American company;
  • Traveler traveled to Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, Libya, Iran, North Korea or Iraq after March 1, 2011;

If you are in one of the following cases, know that there are different types of visas for the United States. To avoid the refusal of your application, it is imperative to make an application corresponding to the type of visa appropriate to your situation.

Which type of visa for the United States corresponds to my situation?

When to apply for an ESTA?

The ESTA is a travel authorization issued by the United States Homeland Security and Immigration Services. Much simpler than a visa, this document is essential to enjoy a short stay in the United States.

A traveler is eligible for an ESTA application if:

  • He has a passport from a country that is a member of the “Visa Waiver Program”. The member countries of the Schengen area, including France, are part of this program.
  • He intends to leave for a tourist trip or a business trip.
  • The duration of his stay does not exceed 90 days.

Note that even for transit or correspondence through the United States, an ESTA is necessary to be able to board the plane. Without this document, the airline and customs services may deny you access. ESTA is also required for boat trips. ESTA is mandatory for adults and children.

How to apply for ESTA?

Are you planning a trip to the United States? Do you meet all the criteria to be eligible for ESTA? However, this procedure is totally unknown to you? Rest assured, the ESTA procedure is a much simpler and less expensive procedure than a visa application procedure.

The request is made online via a form to be completed and does not require you to go personally to an American consulate. . The ESTA is therefore not a physical document like the Visa, but a digital travel authorization issued by the United States.

I make my ESTA USA request

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What is the duration of an ESTA?

From the day the ESTA is granted, it is valid for two years. Throughout this period of validity of the ESTA, the traveler has access to an unlimited number of trips to the USA provided that their duration does not exceed 90 consecutive days and that the traveler returns to his country of origin between each trip.

In the case of the expiration of the passport linked to the ESTA obtained, the latter also expires.

How long does it take to get ESTA?

An ESTA application takes about three days. However, we advise you to make your request two weeks before your departure to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

For last minute travellers, you can apply for an urgent ESTA. All you have to do is tick the “Urgent” box when filling out the form. However, additional costs will be charged. Response times for urgent procedures are 1 hour. However, there is no guarantee on application processing time.

You now have all the information you need to complete your Visa or ESTA application and be able to fully enjoy your trip to the USA.


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