On September 10, 2015, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection launched a redesigned website for Visa Waiver Program (VWP) visitors to apply for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States.
The VWP is administered by the Department of Homeland Security and enables citizens or nationals of 38 designated countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business purposes without first obtaining a visa, as long as the intended stay is for 90 days or less. All VWP travelers are required to have an approved ESTA prior to boarding a carrier to travel by air or sea to the United States under the VWP.
Some of the new and updated features on the ESTA website include:
- Access to frequently asked questions at any time during the application process.
- Mobile-friendly design allows VWP visitors to apply and check the status of their ESTA using their smartphones.
- Users will be able to translate the page into a different language at any point in the application by choosing one of the 23 languages in the language selector.
- The Group feature has been moved to the beginning of the application process making it easier for families and groups to submit their applications at once.
The announcement confirmed that travelers who previously applied through the old website will still be able to access their application on the new website. Visitors were also reminded that they do not have to apply for a new ESTA until their current ESTA expires or they receive a new passport.