Conditions for travelling to the US via ESTA change

Travellers to the US should not leave their application to the last minute.

Illustrative stock photoIllustrative stock photo(Source: AP/TASR)

Slovaks travelling to the United States using the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) will have to send their application no less than 72 hours before their departure.

Due to changes in ESTA application processing, real-time approvals will no longer be available, as the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry’s press department informed.

Citizens of participating Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries travelling to the US are thus encouraged to apply for an ESTA at the time of booking their trip and no later than 72 hours prior to departure. Applicants who apply on the same day of their flight’s departure risk not having an approved ESTA prior to their scheduled departure. International travellers without an approved ESTA will not be authorised to board their flight, the US Department of Homeland Security informed on its website.

VWP allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the US without a visa for stays of 90 days or less for business or pleasure when they meet all requirements. ESTA is an automated system that determines the eligibility of visitors to travel to the US under the VWP and is required for all VWP applicants in the air and sea environment. However, ESTA does not guarantee approval to enter US territory and the final decision is always made by the US Customs and Border Protection officer, the Slovak Foreign Affairs Ministry informed.

Read also:UPDATED: The USA approves tighter visa waiver programme

“This is why the Foreign Affairs Ministry warns that if a traveller, who holds a valid ESTA, is not allowed to enter US territory, the authority they should turn to with complaints is the US Department of Homeland Security,” the ministry informed, as quoted by the SITA newswire.

Complaints can be submitted via the US Custom and Border Protection and the Traveler Redress Inquiry Program websites. The final decision is made by the US authorities, and neither the Slovak Embassy in Washington, D.C. nor the Slovak consulate in New York can intervene in a Slovak citizen’s favour, the ministry informed.

Travellers can also check their ESTA status at the official website. New applications have to be submitted if travellers have a new passport, change their name, citizenship or conditions for yes/no answers in the previous application.

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