- Getting a visa to the US for business trips can be a hassle, especially if the trip is planned at the last minute.
- One of the easiest ways for Australians to travel to US for leisure or business is through the ESTA visa, which is an electronic visa.
- The ESTA visa allows you to stay a maximum of 90 days and is valid for 2 years, which allows for multiple entries within 2 years.
US is one of the top destinations around the world for people looking for a vacation, to live, work or study. As an Australian citizen, you can easily visit the US for different reasons.
However, the US visa system can get complicated, as there are over 180 visa types available. The process can be a hassle and the fees expensive at times, especially when you are on a deadline to travel for business. Therefore, it is crucial to get appropriate advice.
If you’re looking at a short business trip or vacation, one of the most common and recommended options is the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) visa. The ESTA USA allows you to visit the country for tourism or business purposes, as long as you stay a maximum of 90 days.
Getting an ESTA visa is easy and ideal for short business trips. It’s simpler than traditional visas as they are electronic visas. However, in some cases, you cannot use the ESTA visa. If this is the case, you need to apply for other appropriate US visas.
What is the ESTA?
ESTA is not technically a visa, but it does have several strict limitations and conditions that need to be respected. The most important one is the automatic 90 days limit associated with it. There is no way you can stay in the country past that limit on a single trip. You must exit after 90 days.
An ESTA is normally utilised for tourism and business trips, but you can also consider it if you go for a short study, transit or medical procedures.
After the ESTA application is approved, it remains valid for up to 2 years. You can make multiple trips to the US as long as your passport is still valid within the two years. If your passport is no longer valid, you need to apply for a new ESTA.
How do I apply for the ESTA?
If you want to apply, all you need to do is fill up a form. You will need to provide basic personal details together with answers to some security questions. After the form is submitted and the ESTA processing fee is paid, a response is normally given in under 24 hours. Once approved, the ESTA automatically becomes valid and you can travel to the US immediately.
Another important detail thing you should know is that you are not allowed to use the ESTA to get to the US, and then apply for a new visa once there. As your ESTA uses the VWP (Visa Waiver Programme), you have to leave the country in order to start the procedures for a new visa.
Finally, due to increased security concerns in the US, bear in mind that you are going to be met by an official from the US Border Patrol on arrival. Even if you do have a valid ESTA, that person in charge can still deny entry due to security or other concerns.
However, if you have all valid travel authorization documents with you and your purpose of visit is genuine, the possibility that you will be denied entry is extremely low. Even so, you should be ready to answer some questions regarding the scope of the visit and your intended travels.
Should you use an ESTA for business trips?
As long as you enter the country and leave in under 90 days, you can do business in the US. This makes it ideal for business trips for your small business or a short personal holiday. However, the ESTA authorization does not allow you to get paid directly or to get a job in the States, and you will be in breach of your visa if you do that. For such cases, you will need another visa.