Visitors to USA need pre-clearance from January 12, 2009
Nationals of Visa Waiver Program countries (see list below) will still be eligible to travel without a visa but will have to obtain an approved travel authorization prior to their travel to the United States.
Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Noway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom.
From 12 January 2009, the United States is implementing a new procedure for nationals holding passports from the above countries to travel on the Visa Waiver Program.
You no longer will be able to enter the country without first applying for authorisation through an online site called the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The ESTA application can be found at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.
If you're traveling to the USA even before January 12, you should start to use the ESTA system starting immediately. As long as you have a Machine Readable Passport, you will be able to use ESTA (see http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#mrp for more details on Machine Readable Passports).
The online ESTA application must be completed at least 72 hours before arrival in the US and is quick and easy to complete. Once you have registered, your ESTA will remain active for either 2 years or until your passport expires, whichever happens first.
If you have any questions regarding the ESTA procedure or system, there is an explanation of how ESTA works here.
Yes, this USA pre-clearance makes it even more difficult to travel to America, which is probably the last thing the country needs right now. What do you think of this new hurdle?
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