06 September 2010

United States government charge for ESTA applications due imminently

The US Government is set to start charging British travellers a fee for the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA), which allows tourists to enter the country in lieu of an American visa.

US Visa

The US Government will charge a fee for the US ESTA Visa from 8 September, 2010.

Obtaining a US ESTA in advance of travel to the US was initially introduced on a voluntary basis, but it has been a compulsory requirement for residents of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) since January 2009. Until now the government has not charged for this.

However, on 8 September, 2010, the new government fee will be introduced at US$14. $4 of this government fee will go to administrative costs and $10 will go towards funding the activities of the Corporation for Travel Promotion.

The U.S. Senate introduced the ESTA charge to raise funds to strengthen the image of the country abroad, and to try and reverse declining numbers of visitors to the country.

The ESTA does not guarantee entry to the US, but rather provides an authorisation to travel. A decision on entry to the country will continue to be made by immigration staff at usual checkpoints. Once approved, the ESTA visa is valid for two years or until the holder’s passport expires, whichever is sooner. Multiple trips can be made within this time.

The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in helping people with the American visa and immigration process.

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