If you are traveling to the USA and are just going for a holiday or a conference, rather than planning to work instead, there is a good chance that you will be eligible for an ESTA travel visa waiver option instead of having to get a proper visa. There are exceptions to this, but in general the ESTA travel visa waiver program allows people to get authorised for travel to the USA electronically, avoiding a lot of the paperwork.
If you apply for an ESTA, you will be asked to pay a fee, which at the time of writing is $14 if you do it via the official website. Don’t waste your time with other sites. Use the US Government site so that you don’t waste any money and you get your application processed as quickly as possible.
The ESTA is usually processed within minutes but there are some rare circumstances where it might be delayed – although even when it is delayed there is a chance that it will approved once additional checks are done. You should apply for your ESTA in good time to get the application completed before you travel. Once you get it, the authorisation is valid for two years so there’s no reason not to start getting it processed well in advance.
The ESTA is a must-have even if you are just passing through the USA on the way to somewhere else like Canada. You run the risk of being denied boarding if you don’t get your ESTA before you head to the airport, so take the time to get it sorted out before you book. At just $14, that’s pocket chance compared to the price of the flight, and it will give you peace of mind that your trip will go as smoothly as possible.