Visa Waiver Program was created in 1986 when the Congress passed legislation to create the program with the aim of facilitating tourism and short-term business visits to the United States. Australia joined in 1996. US Visa Waiver Program allows 38 countries’ including Australian citizens to cross the USA border for travel, business or transit purposes for 90 days without visa. US Visa Waiver program works under the authority of the USA Department of Homeland Security and the USA Customs and Border Protection that have very strict rules and tools to check the individuals consider crossing the American border. Checking includes pre-screening travelers against numerous no-fly, criminal, and terrorist list databases that ensures the security of the borders, country and the peaceful environment between the people. US Visa Waiver does not practice over the persons who had previously traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011 and for those who have a dual citizenship of Iran, Iraq, Sudan or Syria.
Requirements for the US Visa Waiver Program includes the obligation to have individual passports. It is not acceptable for children to be included on a parent’s passport. Visitors from Australia are required and obliged to hold a biometric passport. Citizens of Australia must hold E-passport that represents secure passport with an embedded electronic chip, that guarantees the unique identity of a person who enjoys from Visa Waiver Program.
Australian citizens and the rest of the people from the other thirty-seven countries of US Visa Waiver Program should apply for Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), fill the application to gain a permission for traveling in USA for maximum 90 days. If you have planned your visit already it is better to apply, USA Customs and Border Protection has advised travelers to apply as soon as they plan their visit in US or at least 72 hours before departure. ESTA application is filled completely online and the rest of the procedure that includes gaining approval or denial for your visit in America is made online as well. It means that internet is needed and if you do not have access to it, third party can fill your application without any restriction. A valid, un-expired electronic passport is an obligatory requirement for the ESTA application procedure.
Approval or denial for your application should be announced to you within 72 hours maximum but usually it takes several minutes or hours. Approved ESTA application for Australians is valid for two years. Exceptional cases take place when your Australian passport expires before that two years that the expiration date for your ESTA and passport coincides each other. Furthermore, approved ESTA application does not guarantee the citizens of Australia for entry in US, the final decision will be made by an officer of the Customs and Border Protection after checking you and your luggage. Australians need visa for USA if theywish to stay in United States more then 90 days. There exist different kinds of visas including business visas, travel visas, tourist visas etc.
ESTA approval also does not guarantee the equal level of rights for ESTA and visa holder. Persons with long run staying purposes need to apply for visa that requires more comprehensive application procedure and form, called the DS-160. For visa citizens of Australia should have an interview at a USA consulate or embassy. Furthermore, according to the type of visa, applicants need to prepare advanced documents to prove and make clear the purposes and legitimacy for the long run traveling in USA before entering the country.