Mark A Ivener, A Law Corporation

Electronic VWP Application System Now Available

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is now accessible online for citizens and eligible nationals of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries to apply for advance authorization to travel to the United States under the VWP. Effective January 12, 2009, all VWP travelers will be required to obtain an electronic travel authorization before boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP.

To use the system, log onto the ESTA Web site at and complete an online application in English. Travelers are encouraged to apply early. The Web-based system will prompt you to answer basic biographical and eligibility questions typically requested on a paper I-94W form. Basic information on ESTA is available in Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.

Applications may be submitted at any time before traveling. The Department of Homeland Security recommends, however, that applications be submitted at least 72 hours before traveling. In most cases, the DHS promises, you will receive one of the following responses “within seconds”:

  1. Authorization Approved: Travel is authorized.
  2. Travel Not Authorized: The traveler must obtain a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate before traveling to the U.S.
  3. Authorization Pending: The traveler will need to check the ESTA Web site for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.

An approved travel authorization via ESTA is:

  • Required for all VWP travelers before boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the U.S. under the VWP beginning January 12, 2009;
  • Valid, unless revoked, for up to two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first;
  • Valid for multiple entries into the U.S. As future trips are planned, or if an applicant’s destination addresses or itineraries change after authorization has been obtained, the applicant may update that information through the ESTA Web site; and
  • Not a guarantee of admissibility to the U.S. at a port of entry. ESTA approval only authorizes a traveler to board a carrier for travel to the U.S. under the VWP. Additional information is available in “For International Visitors” at

Additional information is available in “For International Visitors”.

Share this Article

About the Author

Mark A. Ivener, A Law Corporation, a nationally recognized law firm, has successfully assisted hundreds of clients in immigration matters.