Misunderstandings regarding ESTA-VWP

ESTA USA is the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) that is started to facilitate travel to the USA. Because of its simple procedure and lack of bureaucracy ESTA USA and VWP have been a great success in terms of boosting tourism and trade in the US. It is so helpful to avoid the hassle of applying for a traditional US visa.

But, some things are poorly explained or misunderstood when it comes to ESTA USA. Here are the five most common misunderstandings that surround ESTA and the VWP.

  • Visa or Visa Waiver:

Often, people get confused about whether ESTA is a visa or not?

Actually, it is definitely not a visa, but only a visa waiver. Of course, there are similarities in US visa and ESTA procedures such as an applicant pay for the application in both cases, makes lots of declarations, screened and vetted by a complex web of an international database, and gets a travel authorization for already decided period. But, the fact is that the actual visa application for the USA entails significantly greater cost and time. ESTA application is easy, less time consuming and available online for electronic passport holders only.

  • ESTA validity:

The ESTA doesn’t need to be always valid for two years. After filling an online ESTA application form, mostly the applicant receives an approval email within 24 hours and this email also informs the applicant how long their ESTA is valid for, along with all other approval details. Although, an ESTA will never be valid for longer than two years, this time is possible to be shorter.

  • Passport expiry & ESTA:

An applicant has to provide their passport details when filling in the online ESTA form. Many of your passport details change whenever you get a new passport such as the issuance and expiry dates and passport number. The ESTA intricately links with the passport of every applicant that is why ESTA expires with the expiry of the passport also. It means you need to fill up a new online application for a new passport.

  • 90-Day timer settings:

According to this ESTA-Visa Waiver program tourists and businessmen are allowed to remain in the US for the time up to 90 days or within the validity period of their ESTA. When you leave the country within 90 days, this time generally resets. However, it is a usual practice, but there are some exceptions to this rule. In case of traveling to adjacent Islands, Canada, or Mexico as part of your US trip, the time spent there will be also included in the 90 days and you also need to follow the travel authorization system of these countries. If a traveler needs to stay in the United States longer than 90 days, they must have to apply for the relevant visa.


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