Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

The Visa Waiver Program allows Austrians to travel to the United States without a visa. This simplifies the process of travel by only requiring a passport. However, heightened security concerns are the reason the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) became a travel requirement for visa waiver countries. Intending travelers from these countries are required to apply for travel authorization online prior to any trip to the United States. For more information on ESTA visit estavisum.at.

ESTA is not a visa application
ESTA cannot be considered to be a visa application. It is only a submission to screening by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Austrian travelers are required to apply for travel authorization at least 72 hours before the intended time of departure. Persons from non-visa waiver countries are not allowed to apply for an ESTA. However, where your ESTA application is denied, you can only enter the US through a B-1 Visitor Visa or in the alternative, a B-2 Tourist Visa.

Airlines verify information
Airlines are expected to verify all ESTA travel information. Any Austrian traveling to the US yet to receive an electronic entry permit is likely to be denied entry aboard the aircraft. Airlines are further obliged to transmit passenger information to US authorities through the Advanced Passenger Information System – known as “APIS” for short. Information likely to be obtained includes your present country of residence, the first address you intend to stay in the United States and all other relevant information contained in your passport.

You may be prohibited from traveling with an ESTA
According to US regulations, travelers from visa waiver countries who have visited either Sudan, Iran, Iraq and Syria in the past five years are prohibited from traveling with a travel authorization. They have to apply for a US visa to travel to the United States. This rule also affects persons with dual citizenships emanating from any of the abovementioned countries. Passengers traveling with a green card or permanent residence permit are also not required to apply for an ESTA.

Should you be permitted to enter the United States with an ESTA, it is advisable to register as early as possible. If you cannot apply yourself, a family member is permitted to file the application on your behalf. Also take a print out of this application with you as you travel. An ESTA is valid for two years. Lastly, an ESTA does not serve as a conclusive guarantee of entry to the US.