Published on: Apr 15, 2018, Last Edited: Nov 09, 2019
With around a million people entering and leaving the United States on a daily basis, immigration and getting a US visa is certainly a mammoth task, supposedly made somewhat simpler by the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, (ESTA). Everyone who arrives at a U.S. port of entry is subject to an inspection by the Customs and Border Protection officers in order to ensure that they are compliant with, not just customs, but also immigration and agriculture regulations. Knowing in advance what to expect can certainly make life a little easier for travelers and can help to speed up the process. However, it should be noted, that with current security at an all time high, checking the USA immigration news before starting an application, especially if requiring a USA visa, is essential.
With the advent of President Trump, the rules seem to change constantly, as does USA visa news, most significantly with the suggested alterations to the international VWP, (Visa Waiver Program); this would specifically affect the Electronic System for Travel Authorization visa, to take effect immediately. The Trump administration has requested that all 39 countries who currently participate in the VWP, voluntarily agree to these changes to their fullest extent. This would include additional information regarding third-country travelers, such as citizens living outside the VWP who travel from eligible countries to the US. This incorporates some European nations and is being met not without disagreement which, potentially, could lead to similar restrictions and information gathering about US citizens.
Most automated systems make lives easier and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, ESTA, is designed to facilitate this - it's not clear for who though! It determines the eligibility of travelers to the United States from countries covered under the VWP and vice versa. However, it does not guarantee that a traveler is able to enter the country as it only gives permission to travel; it still falls upon Customs and Border Protection officers to determine admissibility upon arrival. In this age of data collection, the ESTA does just that: it collects biographic information and answers to personal questions regarding VWP eligibility. In order to speed up the process, it is best to complete the application, currently costing $14 per person if accepted, $4 if not, before booking flights. Green Card holders and American citizens are not required to apply, even if they live abroad, however, with international politics seemingly changing daily, the USA could lose visa-free travel privileges to Europe - always check the latest ESTA news first.
Visa application requirements have been tightened as a security measure, however, with the USA being a country full of opportunities, it still remains a popular place to visit and live. There are various different types of visas, depending on the reason for the trip, length of stay and nationality of the visitor. The three most popular USA visa types are the B1, B2 and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization waiver program. The latter currently allows the visitor to remain in the United States for a maximum of 90 days, with a two year validity period, so perfect for vacations and visiting family and friends; check the latest USA visa news to see eligibility. The B1 and B2, also valid for 90 days, are, again, for tourism, but also business and medical reasons, however, this type of visa, being more conventional, will require a trip to a US embassy, so be sure that all visa requirements can be met in order to avoid a wasted journey.
All foreign citizens who wish to apply for USA immigration must either be sponsored by a US citizen who is either a lawful permanent resident, an immediate relative or a prospective employer: refugees, asylum seekers, human trafficking, crime and abuse victims also can apply, although recently, tests for these categories have become more stringent as POTUS follows his 'America First' pledge. Once qualified, it will then be possible to obtain a USA immigration approved petition which could lead to an application for a Green Card. This will allow permanent residency with the right to work, live and, eventually, after a minimum of five years, apply for American citizenship. With current tight security, it is best to check the latest USA immigration news to be sure of status and eligibility. The immigrant visa is not a decision that should be taken lightly by sponsors, as the path can be complex, starting with filing the petition with the USCIS, ( U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services).
As always, it is important to keep up-to-date with all immigration, visa and ESTA news whenever planning to travel, as we now live in volatile and rapidly changing times where the rules can deviate overnight.