If you’re an Aussie traveller ready to take on the USA, you’re probably wondering this question: Do I need a visa to visit the USA from Australia? But you don’t have to worry. Crown Currency Exchange is here to help you with what you need to know about acquiring a visa for the United States of America. Let’s get started!
What are the USA Visa Requirements for Australian Citizens?
There’s no need for a visitor visa when planning your exciting journey to the United States. – You can apply for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) visa online instead. This streamlined process outshines its conventional counterpart in simplicity and speed, allowing you to complete it all from your laptop or phone.
How to Apply for an ESTA?
Ready to embark on getting an ESTA? But first, let us remind you that not all Australians are eligible for this travel authorisation. You must first meet the criteria outlined below.
Who Should Apply for an ESTA?
You should apply for an ESTA if:
- You are a citizen or eligible national of a Visa Waiver Program country.
- You don’t currently possess a visitor’s visa.
- Your travel duration is 90 days or less.
- You plan to visit the United States for business or pleasure.
- You want to apply for a new authorization for one person or a group of applications for two or more persons.
Once you meet the above criteria, you’ll need all these documents below to apply for an ESTA.
What Do I Need to Apply for an ESTA?
To apply for an ESTA, ensure you have the following:
- Valid passport from a Visa Waiver Program country.
- Traveller’s valid email address for correspondence.
- Traveller’s home address details and phone number for contact purposes.
- Traveller’s emergency point of contact phone and email.
- Payment method: MasterCard, VISA, American Express, Discover (only JCB or Diners Club), or PayPal.
In some cases, additional information may be required:
- Traveller’s aliases or other names (if applicable).
- Traveller’s National ID or Personal ID number (if applicable).
- Traveller’s Global Entry/NEXUS/SENTRI ID number (if applicable).
- Traveller’s employer address and phone number (if applicable).
- Traveller’s U.S. point of contact name, address, and phone (if applicable).
If you have everything you need, you can proceed with your ESTA application. Here’s a guide on how to apply online.
How Do I Apply for an ESTA?
Applying for an ESTA is a breeze! Head to the official Department of Homeland Security website and complete the process online. Follow these simple steps to submit your application:
- Answer disclaimers: Confirm your eligibility and agree to the terms and conditions.
- Enter applicant information: Give your full name, date of birth, and current contact information.
- Enter personal information: Fill in your passport details, nationality, and other relevant data.
- Enter travel information: Share your travel plans, including flight details and the purpose of your visit.
- Answer eligibility questions: Respond to your background, health, and security questions.
- Review application: Double-check your information for accuracy before submitting.
- Pay: Submit the $21.00 USD application fee using a valid payment method.
Easy, right? Apply for your US ESTA here and embark on your unforgettable journey!
What Travel Purposes Does an ESTA Visa Cover?
An ESTA visa opens up a world of opportunities for your visit to the United States. Here are some examples of activities permitted while in the United States on the VWP:
- Consult with business associates
- Attend scientific, educational, professional, or business conventions and conferences
- Participate in short-term training (note that you may not be paid by any source in the U.S., except for incidental expenses)
- Negotiate contracts
- Tourism and sightseeing
- Vacationing or holidaying
- Visiting friends and relatives
- Medical treatment
- Social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
- Amateur participation in musicals, sports, or similar events or contests (without being paid)
- Enrolment in short recreational courses not for credit towards a degree (e.g., a two-day cooking class during your vacation)
Additionally, transiting through the United States to other countries is generally permitted for VWP travellers.
Activities Not Permitted on the Visa Waiver Program:
Please note that certain travel purposes are not allowed under the VWP, including:
- Studying for credit
- Working as a foreign press, radio, film journalist, or other information media
- Lawful permanent residents in the United States
How Much Does a US Visa Cost for an Australian Citizen?
Australians only need to pay a $21 ESTA fee instead of the $185 visa fee for US Visitor Visas (B-1 visa and B-2 visa). This one-time fee is valid for two years, and immigration services do not require additional payment for multiple visits within this period.
How Long Does an ESTA Application Take to Get Approved?
Although it typically takes around 23 minutes to complete an ESTA application, US authorities advise applicants to submit their request at least 72 hours before departure. This allows for any unforeseen delays and ensures a seamless and worry-free travel experience to the United States.
Once Approved, What ESTA Documentation Am I Required to Show for Proof of Entry?
Once your ESTA is approved, the DHS can inform your carrier. To be on the safe side, it’s a good idea to print out your ESTA application response. That way, you’ll have a physical copy of your ESTA number in case anything unexpected happens during your trip to the US.
How Long is an ESTA Visa Valid For?
Your ESTA visa is good for two years from the day it was authorised, or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. You can take multiple trips during that time without applying for ESTA again. Just remember to check the expiration date on the screen where it says “Authorization Approved”. If it gets revoked for any reason, then, unfortunately, it won’t be valid anymore.
How Long Can You Stay in the USA with an ESTA Visa?
An ESTA visa lets you stay for up to 90 days. But, if your American adventure extends beyond 90 days, you’ll need to grab a visa from the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. Just a heads up, you can’t extend or renew an ESTA visa.
Can an ESTA Visa Be Extended?
Sadly, extending or renewing an ESTA visa isn’t an option. If your trip to the USA is coming up, simply head over to the Department of Homeland Security Official Website and reapply for a new ESTA.
Are There Any Additional Travel Documents I Will Need to Bring?
Aside from your personal identification cards, passport, and ESTA travel authorisation, you should also carry proof of onward travel, such as a return ticket or a ticket to another destination.
Can I work in the USA with an ESTA visa?
No. An ESTA visa does not authorise you to work in the USA through the Visa Waiver Program. So, whether your employer is based in the States or elsewhere, you can’t engage in any paid work or pursue studies while visiting with an ESTA authorization.
Can I change my visa status from ESTA?
No, you cannot change your visa status while in the United States under the VWP.
Do children need an ESTA visa?
Absolutely! Whether flying solo or tagging along with adults, children of any age from visa-waiver countries need ESTA approval before heading to the United States. This rule ensures everyone, no matter how young, meets the VWP requirements for a smooth and stress-free entrance into the country.
Can I get an ESTA visa with a criminal record?
In general, applicants with a criminal record or those who have been refused entry are not eligible for ESTA. However, factors like the nature of the crime and your age at the time may affect eligibility. The consular officer and border protection authorities will assess your application form and decide on issuing the visa.
This guide has given you a clear picture of the visa-free travel requirements for Aussies heading to the USA. Now, if you’re also looking for help with currency exchange, look no further! Crown Currency Exchange is your perfect pit stop. We offer competitive rates, and our friendly professionals are always ready to assist. Learn more about buying USD with us here.
So whether you’re buying dollars for your dream trip or exchanging leftover currency when you return, no one does it better than Crown Currency Exchange.
Get in touch today and let us help make your US journey a memorable experience. Safe travels!