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Houston ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization)

 

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system that assists in determining eligibility to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk. Upon completion of an ESTA application, a traveler is notified of his or her eligibility to travel to the United States under the
 VWP.
 
Authorization under ESTA
 
The “Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007” (9/11 Act) amended Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), requiring that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) implement an electronic travel authorization system and other measures to enhance the security of the VWP. ESTA adds another layer of security that allows DHS to determine, in advance of travel, whether an individual is eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP and whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.
 
Is ESTA a Visa?
 
No. An approved ESTA is not a visa. It does not meet the legal or regulatory requirements to serve in lieu of a U.S. visa when a visa is required under U.S. law. Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for ESTA.
 
What Laws Govern ESTA?
 
ESTA enables DHS to evaluate whether individuals are eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP prior to their boarding a U.S.-bound carrier, and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risks. ESTA counterbalances vulnerabilities inherent in visa-free travel by adding a layer of advance scrutiny that enables DHS frontline personnel to focus even more on the small population of potentially dangerous travelers.
 
How does ESTA Mitigate Security Risks?
 
ESTA enables DHS to evaluate whether individuals are eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP prior to their boarding a U.S.-bound carrier, and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risks. ESTA counterbalances vulnerabilities inherent in visa-free travel by adding a layer of advance scrutiny that enables DHS frontline personnel to focus even more on the small population of potentially dangerous travelers.
 
ESTA and Privacy
 
Information submitted by applicants through the ESTA website is subject to the same strict privacy provisions and controls that have been established for similar traveler screening programs. Access to such information is limited to those with a professional need to know. The website is operated by the U.S. government and employs technology to prevent unauthorized access to the information entered and viewed. Information is protected and governed by U.S. laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Federal Information Security Management Act.  
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