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What is the difference between the ESTA and the Visa ?

Today’s blog we will be talking about the distinction between the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and the visa application process. What difference exists between these two modes of travel permission to the United States?


Firstly, the ESTA, or Electronic System for Travel Authorization, represents a permit that allows citizens of certain countries to visit the United States for a period not exceeding 90 days without the need to apply for a visa. This simplified and electronic mechanism is available for most European Union countries, Japan, South Korea, and other nations participating in the Visa Waiver Program. The ESTA application is done electronically and must be completed before traveling to the United States.

On the other hand, the visa constitutes a broader travel permit, allowing foreigners to enter and stay in the United States for a specific period, determined by the particular reason for the trip. Visas cover various categories such as tourism, work, study, investment, among others. To initiate the visa application process, one must complete an online application and participate in an interview at the corresponding U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant's country of origin.

In other words, the main difference between ESTA and a Visa lies in the scope of permitted stays and the variety of travel purposes each covers. While ESTA is limited to short stays of up to 90 days and is intended for citizens of specific countries, the visa allows for extended stays and caters to a variety of travel motivations.

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