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Overview of ESTA for Australian Citizens

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The ESTA (Electronic Travel Authorization System) was developed in 2009 to streamline the processing of visa waiver applicants and provide for the U.S. Customs and Border Control, as well as the Homeland Security Department (DHS) with the ability to pre-screen travelers against various lists on no-fly, terrorist, and terror list. However, security measures, designed to counter terrorist threats, required travelers to be pre-screened before they arrive in the U.S. As a result, Australian citizens have been forced to get an accepted ESTA application for entry to the United States since 2009.

Beautiful picture of feral camels in australia. wild camels and dromedaries are eating bush in the outback.

What is an ESTA Travel Authorization?

ESTA Travel Authorization is an application system created by the United States Government to pre-screen travelers before being permitted to board an airplane or ship bound for the United States. Any traveler entering the United States under the visa waiver program will be required to hold an authorized ESTA commencing on January 12, 2009. Foreign nationals not qualifying for ESTA or refused an ESTA may need to apply for a U.S. visa.

What are the purposes of ESTA allowed for Australian citizens?

The ESTA allows Australian citizens to enter the United States without a visa for up to 90 days per entering for travel, service, transportation, medical, and short study purposes.

What is the information required to apply the ESTA for Australian citizens?

The following data are needed to fill the application form:

  1. Passport information
  2. Contact information including home address and telephone number(s)
  3. Travel information such as your U.S. point of contact and U.S. accommodation address
  4. Employment information (if employed)
  5. Card details to pay the application fee

How long would it take to process ESTA for Australian citizens?

ESTA for Australian citizens may take 72 hours to process, but most requests are accepted within minutes or a few hours.

How long is valid of ESTA for Australian citizens?

ESTA for Australian citizens is valid for two years from the authorization date or until your passport expiry, whichever comes first. Your travel authorization will also immediately terminate when your passport expires unless the travel authorization is issued before the end of the two years.

What are the conditions of ESTA for Australian citizens?

The full conditions on an ESTA for Australian citizens are:

  1. ESTA is valid for 24 months from the date of acceptance (or from the date of expiry of the passport if the passport expires during the next 24 months);
  2. Multiple entries may use ESTA;
  3. The ESTA can only be used for visits up to 90 days per stay from the date of arrival to the U.S. territory.
  4. The holder of the ESTA shall have the right to undertake tourism, and certain business practices, such as exploring job opportunities, consulting business associates, traveling to research, educational, technical, or business convention or conference.
  5. The holder of the ESTA shall not be allowed to participate in any job, study, or training.

Does an ESTA for Australian citizens guarantee entry into the United States?

An official travel authorization allows you to fly to the U.S. only; it does not guarantee your admission. Admission is decided by a Customs and Border Protection Officer (CBP) who will check your passport and ask you questions about your visit when you arrive in the U.S.

Is an ESTA like a visa?

No, an ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal or regulatory criteria to operate in place of a U.S. visa when a U.S. law requires a visa. Individuals who hold a valid visa will also be able to fly on that visa to the United States because it has been issued. Individuals traveling on valid U.S. visas do not apply for an ESTA, either. Besides, a non-immigrant or immigrant visa would not be accepted as an ESTA instead. If you have a valid travel visa, you can fly to the U.S. under that visa, and no additional travel authorization is necessary.

What are the travel requirements ESTA for Australian citizens?

Tourism: Your travel to the United States is for tourism, vacations, friends’ or family visits, as well as medical care.

  1. Business: visit in the U.S. to meet with business partners or sign contracts with potential customers.
  2. Professional Events: You must attend a U.S. Science, Educational, Medical, or Business Conference, or Short-Term Unpaid Training. Except for reimbursements for expenses incurred during your stay, you are not entitled to accept payment for attending such activities. 
  3. Social Events: Your travel to the United States will include taking part in social activities such as those organized by a fraternal, charitable, or community organization. Participation in amateur music, sports, or related activities or competitions is also allowed if visitors do not receive any gifts or awards, which may be a form of payment.
  4. Recreation: Your travel to the United States is for a brief recreational study course, such as a knitting course, but it is not allowed to take part in courses granting credit to a degree.
Beautiful aerial shot of green hills and a curvy narrow bridge going along the cliffs

What are the passport requirements of ESTA for Australian citizens?

The passport has to have a digital chip with the passport holder’s digital image. This digital chip carries specific passport holder identifiers. A dedicated readable area must also be included in the section on personal information. This is indicated by the two lines of text with numbers and chevrons (< < <) at the bottom of the page.

What are the other requirements of ESTA for Australian citizens?

Travelers arriving into the U.S. must hold a return ticket to their home country or an onward ticket to another non-U.S. destination. If you are traveling on an e-ticket, a copy of the itinerary must be taken at the port of entry for presentation to U.S. immigration.

When is the best time to apply for a travel authorization?

A travel authorization application should be submitted weeks or months before the date of travel. Applications are accepted any time before traveling to the U.S.

How do applying ESTA for Australian citizens to visit the U.S.?

  1. Fill out and complete your application online–double-check your passport number and country of origin.
  2. Confirm the information of all the travelers
  3. Submit the visa applications form
  4. Make the payment
  5. You will receive the application status in your email when a CBP decision is reached (U.S. Customs and Border Protection).
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