VWP is an ambitious program of US Government. It was started in 1986 and today a total of 50 countries are participating in the program. Travelers from these countries have to apply for visa but travelers coming for short term can get quick visa through electronic system.
In short, it is a visa program that waives required for regular visa for short travels like business and leisure. Short travel is defined as stay extending not more than 90 days. Travelers from VWP countries have to fill ESTA application for approval. It is a prescreening process and first step for approval. Electronic visa is cleared within a minute and the traveler is allowed to take permission of US Customs and Border Protection officials.
Why electronic visa?
VWP waives requirement of regular visa but there is no leniency is the screening process. US officials want to make sure that no traveler that poses any king of security threat enters the US territory. Electronic system was started in June 3, 2008 with an objective to prescreen the visa applications. US Government has a large database of travelers. Applications for VWP are prescreened electronically to ease burden of US security officials and also to make US travel more convenient for visitors.
How the electronic application is filled?
For ESTA visa apply travelers have to visit website of US Government. Application is available online and also a meager sum is charged for prescreening. Applicants have to pay $14 for every application but third-party sites charge more than $14. Travelers can apply for electronic visa from third-party sites on their own risk.
Every traveler has to file individual application even when the applicant is a minor. Families traveling with kids have to apply for kids as their application can’t be included in parents’ application. Also precautions have to be taken while entering important details like passport number as corrections aren’t allowed. Travelers are advised to go through details of VWP and electronic authorization before filling USA visa application.
Should a traveler use third-party site for applying for electronic visa?