90-day travel with ESTA

The ESTA was designed as part of the Visa Waiver Program, a program that allows citizens of member countries to no longer require a visa to enter the United States. The main conditions imposed by an ESTA are that the traveler cannot exceed a stay of more than 90 days and that the reasons for travel must be related to tourism or business. The Visa Waiver Program has greatly facilitated access to the U.S. and has significantly reduced the processing time for travel authorization applications.

Why does the ESTA allow a 3-month stay?

First of all, it is good to clarify the two validity periods associated with the ESTA: the authorization is valid for 2 years from the date of receipt, unless your passport expires during this period. However, you cannot plan a stay of more than 90 consecutive days. If you want to stay longer, you should apply for a B2 tourist visa for example. For those who wish to stay in the U.S. for the full duration of the ESTA, it is easy to interpret 90 days as approximately 3 months. This leads some travelers to book a return flight exactly 3 months after their outbound flight: it’s an easy mistake to make, but if you book your flights between July 4 and October 4, for example, that’s more than 90 days.

If you make this mistake, the best thing to do is to rearrange your return flight and comply with the rules imposed by ESTA. Don’t worry, exceeding the 90 days will not prevent you from returning to your home country, but it will likely cause complications the next time you try to enter the United States.

Is it possible to stay longer than the 90 days of the ESTA?

For travelers who wish to stay in the United States for an extended period of time, it is important to know that some people think that they can save money on visas by acquiring an ESTA and crossing a nearby border every 90 days with a ESTA Canada or from Mexico. Border patrol agents are very aware of the misuse of the ESTA, and the 90-day time limit is not reset when crossing a neighboring border. If you want to stay in the United States for more than 90 days, research the type of U.S. visa you need and follow the official procedures.

The 2-year duration of the ESTA means that you can technically come back as many times as you want during that time, as long as you never exceed the 3-month period. The ESTA was designed to facilitate travel to the USA. This is a very effective and useful measure, and it is understandable that the U.S. authorities want to ensure that it is used properly. You can apply for your ESTA online in minutes.