If you’re planning on visiting the United States, there are two main ways to do so: with a visa or with an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The first option is more expensive, but it also guarantees entry. The second option is cheaper and easier, but it gives the US government less control over who enters and leaves the country. Before to apply for an ESTA you should check your ESTA eligibility.

Visa or ESTA?

If you’re planning a longer stay and need to apply for a visa, there are several different types of visas that allow you to enter the United States. Depending on your purpose of travel, you may qualify for one or more types of visas.
  • Tourist Visa: This type of visa is available to anyone who wants to visit the U.S. temporarily for pleasure or business (visiting family/friends). There are two basic categories: B2 Visa and B1 Visa. A tourist US visa is valid for up to 6 months from date of entry into the U.S., meaning that if it expires before that period has passed, then you must depart the U.S.; however, it can be renewed in six months’ time so long as there are no legal issues preventing renewal (such as overstaying past allowed stay). The B1/B2 Visas allow stays up 70 days per calendar year; however if staying less than 30 days then no extra fee applies at all! If staying between 31 days and 59 days then only USD $140 must be paid per person per visit–this includes children too! Any stays beyond 60 days require paying an additional USD $160 application fee plus having a valid return ticket home before entering into customs lineups.”

Official ESTA website

On the website of the US Department of Homeland Security you can apply for an ESTA. Here are the two types of application that one can choose to start the online process: Create a new application or continue an existing application already started.

What the price of the ESTA

The ESTA application have 7 steps to complete. The last step of the online application is the payment by card. The pricing of the ESTA application fees is 21 US dollars since 2022.  The fee is valid for two years, so you only pay once.

Official ESTA Application

When is an ESTA required?

An ESTA application is required by citizens of the following countries members of the Visa Waiver Program:

  • Most of the European countries
  • Australia
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Japan
  • Korea (South)
  • Malaysia
  • New Zealand

When is a visa required?

A visa is a document that allows you to travel to the United States for a specific reason. The purpose of your trip will determine whether or not you need to apply for a visa. If you’re traveling for business purposes, if you are planning on staying in the U.S. longer than 90 days, or if your home country does not have an agreement with America (such as Russia), then applying for a visa is necessary.

A visa can be issued by an American consulate in your home country or at border control upon arrival in America. It costs $160 and usually takes around five working days to process; however, there may be some delays depending on circumstances such as:

  • If there are many other people applying for visas at the same time
  • If there are special circumstances surrounding your application

What types of visas exist?

There are several types of visas, each of which has its own set of rules. The most common ones include:

  • Student visas
  • Work visas
  • Visitor B visas
  • The Visa Waiver Program (VWP)
  • Transit visas

Several other countries have set up a visa exception program like the US VWP. The best example is the official ETA Canada, which makes it easier for tourists to enter Canada by simply obtaining an electronic travel authorization via the Internet.

How to apply for a tourist visa?

  • Visa online application form
  • Electronic or bio-metric Passport
  • Two recent size 2 passport photos (taken from the same angle as all other pages in your passport)
  • Proof of travel insurance (to be valid for the whole period of stay)
  • Proof of return ticket or onward journey arrangements : a photocopy of your itinerary reservation or Air ticket reservation confirmation; or an airline/ship booking : Electronic Travel Authorization number issued by authorities concerned along with visa approval letter

Don’t forget to apply for a visa before you go on holiday

To get into the US, you need to apply for a visa.

Visa applications can be expensive and time-consuming, and there are many rules that could prevent you from getting one. For example, if your passport isn’t valid for at least six months after your trip to the USA, or if you have previously been deported or refused entry into America, then it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to get a visa approved.

Visas usually take several weeks to process—and in some cases longer than that—during which time the applicant needs to go through extensive checks before being granted permission to enter their chosen country.

You have to apply for an ESTA or visa before to buy your plane tickets.


So, to answer the question ‘Visa or ESTA, how to do your US entry formalities’, you simply have to decide which one is best for you. If you feel that an ESTA is better suited for your situation then by all means go ahead and apply for it. However, if there are any doubts in your mind then it may be best to go ahead with a visa application instead.

© 2022 All Rights Reserved.