Glossary of key terms related to ESTA

Our team has built this lexicon section in order to facilitate your reading. Here you will find the definition of a large number of terms directly related to the ESTA. If in doubt, do not hesitate to refer to it.


An embassy is a diplomatic organization that represents its own country in another territory. The main missions of an embassy are to maintain diplomatic relations with the host country and to assist expatriates in case of need.

Green card

Unlike the ESTA or the visa, the Green Card is a permanent residence permit in the United States, not a temporary one. It is obtained in various ways, including the annual lottery or marriage.


A consulate is an organization that assists expatriates of the country it represents in obtaining certain civil status documents (passport, identity card…). The Consulate is also responsible for the census of its citizens.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

This service of the American administration carries out security checks on the American territory. It is also responsible for processing ESTA applications.

U.S. Department of State

The U.S. State Department is the guardian of international relations. If we were to find a French equivalent, it would be the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


The Customs Service is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Its main functions are: the fight against terrorism and illegal weapons, unauthorized immigration, narcotics or contraband…

Customs Declaration Form 6059B

Also called the “blue form 6059B”, this form was given by hand in the plane and had to be filled in by each passenger. The questions were about the travelers’ marital status but also about the products and belongings they carry. It is no longer mandatory.

Form DS-160

The DS-160 form is completed online, like the ESTA, but as part of a US visa application.

ESTA form

The ESTA form (for Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is a computerized process that allows the American authorities to pre-screen the identity of travelers wishing to visit the United States. The ESTA application is only available to nationals of VWP member countries.

Biometric passport

The biometric passport, which is more recent than the electronic passport, contains an electronic chip in which the individual’s digitized biometric data is stored (name, surname, nationality, passport number) as well as his or her fingerprints and photo. This new version of the passport limits the risk of identity theft.

Electronic passport

More secure than the old “classic” passport, the electronic passport contains the various data (surname, first name, nationality, passport number…) of the individual on an electronic chip integrated into the cover of the passport.

U.S. Diplomatic Security Service

This U.S. State Department service is designed to protect the State Department site, U.S. diplomats traveling abroad, and foreign officials visiting the United States.

ESTA status

When you submit an ESTA application on the Internet, three statuses can follow. At first, the application is “pending”, i.e. awaiting a final answer. Then, once the electronic systems have analyzed your information and responses, they issue either a denial or an approval. These are the three statuses you can read on your online space: ESTA Pending, Approved or Unapproved.

Application fee

Applying for ESTA has a cost. The current rate is $21. This money is used to fund the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, as well as to develop the tourism industry.


A visa is an official document that allows “foreign” people to prove their identity, and to specify the reasons why they wish to travel to another country. This document must be requested from the competent authorities of the country in question.

Visa B1

The B1 visa is a document that authorizes an individual to travel to a foreign country for “business” (contract negotiation, training, conference, sports competition).

In the event that ESTA authorization is denied, the B1 visa may be an alternative for those wishing to travel to the United States.

B2 Visa

The B2 visa is for people who want to visit the USA for tourist or medical reasons. It is an interesting alternative in case of refusal of an ESTA application.

Visa K

The K visa is for people who wish to stay in the United States and who have an American citizen fiancé(e). In order to obtain this particular visa, it is necessary to be able to prove that the couple has met within the last two years, with the intention of getting married within 90 days after obtaining the document (date of issue being the proof).


The Visa Waiver Program allows nationals of member countries to travel to the United States with ESTA authorization, not a visa.