The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a US visa. To use the Visa Waiver Program all travelers must apply online for travel authorization using the ESTA prior to traveling.
Certain travelers from VWP countries are not eligible to travel or be admitted to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP):
In addition, people who have overstayed on previous Visa Waiver visits, travelers who have been previously denied a visa or entry into the US or who might otherwise be ineligible for a visa cannot use the VWP.
Visitors that can not use the Visa Waiver Program need to apply for a visa at a US Embassy or Consulate prior to traveling to the US.
To use the Visa Waiver Program travelers must apply online for travel authorization using the ESTA system. Travel authorization is valid for a period of two years (or until the passport expires) and is valid for multiple visits to the US. It is recommended to request travel authorization as early as possible.
An ESTA application costs $21, payable by credit card. Applying for ESTA is relatively straightforward and it is not necessary to pay a third party to submit an ESTA application for you.
When you travel to the US on the Visa Waiver Program you cannot extend your stay beyond the 90 days. You can also not change your status to another visa category.
Business travelers and tourists who can not use the Visa Waiver Program, or wish to stay in the U.S. for more than 90 days will need to apply for a B-1 (Business Visa) or B-2 (Tourist Visa) prior to traveling to the US.