Category: Archive

Online hoop for transatlantic travelers

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

And by virtue of being outbound from one of the 34 visa waiver nations on the U.S. government’s list they were not first required to visit the U.S. embassy.
But as of January 12 anyone flying to the U.S. for a short stay, such as a holiday or business trip, will have to first visit a website under new rules being imposed by the Department of Homeland Security.
Under the so-called Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) requirement, travelers will be effectively pre-screened and cleared for travel before they even turn up at the airport.
It is understood that the information that will be required online is the same that must be currently written down on a form at an airport.
According to a Department of Homeland Security statement, required authorization through ESTA will “substantially strengthen the security of the Visa Waiver Program by providing the department with the capability to conduct advance screening of VWP travelers.
“ESTA is key to transforming the VWP from a program that evaluates security threats on a country-by-country basis to one that is capable of making traveler-by-traveler judgments. In addition to enhancing security, ESTA will provide for greater efficiencies in the screening of international travelers by reducing traveler delays at the ports of entry.”
Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs is currently carrying information on the new screening process on its website, www.dfa.ie.
The notice states that visa waiver travelers should register through the Department of Homeland Security website: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
It adds that registration is free and may be done by third parties such as travel agencies.
“ESTA applications may be submitted at any time prior to travel, and once approved, generally will be valid for up to two years, or until the applicant’s passport expires, whichever comes first.
“Authorizations will be valid for multiple entries into the U.S. The Department of Homeland Security recommends that ESTA applications be submitted as soon as an applicant begins making travel plans and at least 72 hours in advance of travel,” the foreign affairs notice adds.
And it further states: “An applicant who does not receive authorization to travel will need to go to their nearest U.S. diplomatic or consular mission and apply for a visa. An ESTA approval does not determine admissibility into the United States. The final decision for entry to the United States rests with U.S, immigration authorities at the port of entry.”
The notice points out that the ESTA program does not apply to Irish citizens who are holders of a visa for the United States.
Neither does it apply to green card holders. However, as the Echo recently reported even green card carrying travelers will have to give fingerprints prior to re-entering the United States. This requirement comes into effect on January 18.

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