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Do you need authorization to travel to the USA?

United States visa regulations state that the majority of foreign citizens must either have an approved travel authorization or a US visa to travel to the country. There are 2 types of electronic travel authorization for the United States available through a simple online application.

The type of eVisa travel authorization needed to visit the United States depends on the nationality of the traveler’s passport.

US ESTA Travel Authorization

EVUS Electronic Travel Authorization

The ESTA is an electronic travel authorization required for all visa-exempt nationalities included in the US visa waiver program, who are traveling to the USA by air, land, or sea.

EVUS stands for Electronic Visa Update System. At the moment, it is only mandatory for Chinese passport holders with an approved B1/B2 US visa to enroll with this online system before traveling to the United States.

Make sure to apply online for the correct travel authorization for your trip to the US. Find more information about the ESTA and EVUS below.

US ESTA Travel Authorization

The US ESTA visa waiver is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It is a mandatory requirement for all travelers from visa-exempt nationalities to visit the United States of America, Puerto Rico, or the US Virgin Islands for stays of up to 90 days.

Visitors to the U.S. traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA authorization.

ESTA stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorization. This online application system was introduced by the US government in 2009 to facilitate the process of applying for a US visa waiver for purposes of tourism, business, or to transit through the country to another destination.

ESTA for the United States is available to visitors of 40 nationalities that participate in the US visa waiver program. It allows eligible citizens to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business without first obtaining a visa. Passengers simply have to complete a quick online form to receive an approved ESTA linked to the traveler’s passport. The ESTA application collects biographic information and answers to VWP eligibility questions. This only takes a few minutes to complete. ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, though it is recommended that travelers apply as soon as they begin preparing travel plans or prior to purchasing airline tickets.

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are also required to obtain an independent ESTA approval.

An approved ESTA is a multipleentry travel authorization. This means the holder can travel to the United States multiple times during its period of validity which is 2 years from the date of issue, or until the current passport expires.

A new ESTA is required if: (1) the traveler is issued a new passport; (2) the traveler changes his or her name; (3) the traveler changes his or her gender; (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes; or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed.

ESTA was previously not required to enter the US by land, however it is now a requirement. Visa-exempt passport holders must have a valid ESTA to enter the US at all ports of entry.

ESTA authorizes stays for up to 90 days. Visa-exempt individuals who wish to travel to the USA for longer than 3 consecutive months, or for purposes other than business or tourism, will be required to apply for a visa for the United States.

This may be a work visa, student visa, or another visa type depending on the purpose of the stay. All of these US visa options must be applied for by making an appointment at a US embassy, consulate, or other US diplomatic government office.

Find below a list of all the nationalities required to apply for a US ESTA.

EVUS Electronic Travel Authorization

In November 2016, the US government introduced the Electronic Visa Update System (EVUS), an electronic travel authorization program for Chinese citizens which determines who may enter the country for temporary tourism or business purposes.

However, People’s Republic of China passport holders also need a visa for the United States in addition to obtaining an EVUS authorization.

Chinese passport holders already in possession of one of the following valid 10-year US visa types must enroll for EVUS: B1 (temporary business visitor), B2 (temporary leisure visitor) or the multi-purpose B1/B2 (temporary business and leisure visitor).

To register for EVUS, Chinese nationals are required to fill in a simple online application. To complete the form, applicants must provide basic personal and passport information, and answer a few questions related to security, including the address of the U.S. destination.

Once the EVUS enrollment is complete, the applicant receives an approved US EVUS authorization electronically linked to their passport.

An approved EVUS registration is valid for 2 years from the date of issue and is a multiple entry travel authorization, which means the holder can enter the United States various times during its validity.

Although the majority of EVUS enrollments are processed within a few minutes, applicants are advised to register online well in advance, as processing may take up to 24 hours.

It is important to note that all Chinese visitors to the United States with a valid 10-year B1, B2, or B1/B2 visa must have a valid approved EVUS or they will not be able to obtain a boarding pass or cross a US land border.

It is necessary to apply for and obtain an approved visa for the USA from an embassy or consulate before a Chinese citizen can complete the EVUS application. However, Chinese travelers with a US visa other than the 10-year validity B-class type visa do not need to apply for EVUS.

This content has been reviewed by

Ekaterina Powell

Ekaterina Powell

US Immigration Attorney

Ekaterina Powell is a U.S. attorney licensed in the State of California, working in the area of U.S. immigration law for over 12 years. She has been featured as one of the top immigration lawyers in her state and city several times and has contributed to notable industry publications.

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