Do I need to go to the embassy for my ESTA or visa?
To travel to the USA, anyone who does not hold a US or Canadian passport needs a travel authorisation. There are a number of different types of visas for the USA, for many of them, the application process often takes months. Fortunately, the long waiting times do not apply to the ESTA.
No need to go to the embassy for an ESTA
The ESTA can only be applied for online. This electronic travel authorisation is not the same as a visa, but for many purposes it is sufficient to travel to the USA. The ESTA can be used for a tourist or business trip to America lasting up to 90 days. In general, travellers with a passport from the United Kingdom or Ireland are eligible for the ESTA. Other countries that are part of the Visa Waiver Program include the UK, Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and all EU countries except Romania, Bulgaria, and Cyprus.
You cannot apply for the ESTA at an embassy, but only through an online application form. This is a simple process. Filling in the application form takes about 10 minutes, and you will receive the ESTA usually the same day and otherwise within 3 days. Additionally, an ESTA is many times cheaper and so you do not have to visit the consulate or embassy in person to get a stamp in your passport. This is why most travellers opt for an ESTA instead of a visa.Apply for an ESTA now
Online ESTA application procedure
The ESTA online application procedure saves a lot of time compared to applying for a visa at the consulate or embassy. Because you fill in the form completely yourself, it is extremely important that you check all your entered data several times. Our system checks that you have submitted the correct format passport number, and that you have filled in all fields and information. When applying, there is no need to provide a copy of the passport, so your details cannot be checked for accuracy by others. Read here what to do if you find incorrect details on your ESTA.
Going to the embassy or consulate for a visa
No other visas for the USA can be applied for online. For these visas, you must make an appointment at the US consulate or embassy in your home country. There are plenty of different types of visas for America, and each visa has limited travel options.
This makes it all the more important that you choose the right visa for your travel purpose. Again, the consulate or embassy can help you with this. You can schedule an appointment online or by phone at the US embassy or consulate for your visa application. They can often also advise you there on which visa is best to apply for.
Apply for an ESTA in addition to a visa
If you meet all the ESTA requirements, it is sometimes advisable to apply for an ESTA in addition to a visa. For example, if you have a visa that does not allow you to undertake tourist activities, having an ESTA is an ideal solution. Of course, if the reason you are applying for a visa is that you do not qualify for an ESTA, then this is not possible.
ESTA application rejected
Although rare, it can happen that an ESTA application is rejected. There are several reasons why an ESTA will not be approved, but these are usually not disclosed by the American immigration authorities.
Once an ESTA has been rejected, you cannot try again unless you have entered incorrect passport details. Any new application will again be rejected by the US immigration authorities. Your only option then is to apply for a physical visa at the embassy or consulate.