It would be an understatement to say that President tightening of the visa policy raised a few eyebrows in the travel community. Still, the things are not as harsh as they seemed at the first look. Even the citizens of the affected countries (Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran and Yemen) can still visit the United States, under certain circumstances.
When it comes to the people living in other countries, the rules are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Those who want to travel to the USA need to get permission via one of two available ways – attaining a visitor visa or through visa waiver program.
How Does the Visa Waiver Program Work?
Citizens of certain countries can visit the United States whenever they want, without a need for a visa. Still, there is one condition – the length of their visit must not be longer than 90 days! What this means is that if you’re a citizen of a VWP-approved country, you have the right to stay in America for approximately 3 months, regardless of the purpose of your visit.
Although in this case you do not need a visa to enter the United States, you do need to obtain the ESTA. Otherwise, you might not be permitted to enter the US soil, even if you possess a valid VWP-approved passport.
What is ESTA?
The Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA is a travel authorization system that became mandatory since 2009. What this basically means is that if you’re a traveler from a VWP country, you do not require a visa, but you do need to provide more details about yourself before entering the United States. This rule only applies if you’re entering the country via air or sea, not if you’re crossing the border by land (from Mexico or Canada).
The whole purpose of ESTA is to provide the info for the immigration service, which will use it to access the security threats and decide whether you should be allowed in the country. You might think that doing such a thing is not necessary, but for several years, owning an ESTA is mandatory. Without it, you would not even be allowed on the plane heading overseas!
This is the main reason why a number of online agencies have started offering ESTA eligibility assessments. By completing a questionnaire, you will be able to find out straight away whether you will have any problems entering the United States. This way, you will be able to save not only your money, but also your nerves!
What Alternative the Visitors from Non-VWP Countries Have?
In order to be allowed to enter the United States, a citizen of a foreign country (which is not eligible for the Waiver Program) needs a visa! A visa can be either permanent or temporary, which is the sort you want to wish to apply for if your goal is only to visit the United States. If that is the case, your choice should be the visitor’s visa category B-2.
If, on the other hand, you need to travel to the USA not pleasure, but business, the visa category you should apply for is the B-1 visa. If, you are going to the United States both for business and pleasure, you can apply for a combination of those two types of visas.