MANDATORY ESTA FOR A TRANSIT TO THE USA?

When we take care of the formalities of a trip, we think especially of the organization in the country of destination, without always paying attention to the obligations related to a possible transit. For example, some countries impose a pass or residence permit on anyone entering their country, even if it is only a few hours to change planes.

This is the case in the United States. The American authorities wish to know all the travelers who visit their territory, whether for a long expatriation, a temporary stay or even an afternoon coming from Canada. Are you passing through a US state, but only to transit to your final destination? Regardless, you should consider applying for ESTA transit, for any project involving going to the USA. We also explain here if there are equivalent to this authorization, in the case of air correspondence in the United States of America.

I TRANSIT TO THE USA WITHOUT STAYING: DO I NEED AN ESTA?

Unlike the European Union, which offers its nationals great freedom and simplicity of movement within member countries, the USA adopts a more restrictive attitude. Even for a transit (stopover at an airport without leaving it), all visitors must have a document in order to remain legal. This can be an ESTA document.

Indeed, ESTA USA is not only used for a tourist stay, although it is its main use. This title, available to citizens of the countries affected by the Visa Waiver Program, also makes it possible to be accepted for business trips and for what interests us here, namely transits. Please note that the VWP or visa waiver program only allows travelers from 38 countries to leave for the USA without a visa.

Perhaps you are asking yourself: what is the point of applying for this ESTA for transit, rather than a visa? In fact, the procedure for the second is much longer and more expensive than that for the first. ESTA is obtained via a simple online form to complete and validate (here are more details for completing the questionnaire). The response (refusal or acceptance) will be sent to you within 72 hours. No interview at the American embassy to plan, no months to wait, no hundreds of euros to spend. A few clicks and the online request is sent to electronic systems! You just have to be careful to respect the criteria: the trip to the United States lasts a maximum of 90 consecutive days and is based on tourism, business or, as we see here, transit. The visa allows you to stay up to six months on the spot, which does not provide any advantage for a stopover.

Perhaps you are asking yourself: what is the point of applying for this ESTA for transit, rather than a visa? In fact, the procedure for the second is much longer and more expensive than that for the first. ESTA is obtained via a simple online form to complete and validate (here are more details for completing the questionnaire). The response (refusal or acceptance) will be sent to you within 72 hours. No interview at the American embassy to plan, no months to wait, no hundreds of euros to spend. A few clicks and the online request is sent to electronic systems! You just have to be careful to respect the criteria: the trip to the United States lasts a maximum of 90 consecutive days and is based on tourism, business or, as we see here, transit. The visa allows you to stay up to six months on the spot, which does not provide any advantage for a stopover.

Note, however, an important note: ESTA authorization is not the only option for a stay in the United States for the purpose of transit.

VISA USA, ALTERNATIVE TO ESTA TRANSIT

ESTA transit is not open to nationals of certain countries (excluding VWP). They or people who do not wish to order an ESTA must turn to a US visa. Please note that we are talking about “a” visa and not “the” visa, because there are a multitude, depending on the reason for the trip to the USA. Studies, internship, tourist trip, spouse joining his spouse, business creation… the list goes on; the reason in question must be strictly observed, without deviating immediately from another visa.

Visas are divided into letters to discern them: thus, transit authorizations begin with “C”. However, it is not enough to apply for a C visa, because it is broken down into five copies:

  • C1D visa for crew members
  • C2 visa for United Nations headquarters
  • the C3 visa reserved for senior officials
  • the C4 visa for the ATP program
  • the most common C1 visa for all others

In most cases, you can therefore choose between an ESTA transit or a C-1 visa, except if you are a crew member or a high-ranking official, for example. As mentioned before, the visa application involves an appointment at the Embassy of the United States. The ESTA form process is much easier: some information to provide on your passport number, date of birth, the reasons why you wish to travel to the USA…

Whatever the context, duration or destination, always check your identity documents before traveling abroad: you must have a valid and recognized passport, otherwise you will run into trouble with the local authorities at the border post .