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The US ESTA Process Has Tightened

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The White House on a beautiful summer day, Washington, DC.

New Zealand passport holders are generally required to hold a valid ESTA for the duration of their stay in the United States of America.  The application process has tightened with a new time limit applying. We were notified today of an alert on the Department of Homeland Security website which stated the following:

Reminder: Apply for ESTA no later than 72 hours before departing for the United States. Real-time approvals will no longer be available and arriving at the airport without a previously approved ESTA will likely result in being denied boarding.

The “real-time” approvals provided an opportunity for someone who had forgotten to apply for an ESTA to do so at the airport before checking in.  Although this was not ideal, (ESTAs were not always issued immediately) it did provide a glimmer of hope for someone who might otherwise have needed to rearrange their plans.

This new announcement means that customers who arrive at the airport without an ESTA to enter the USA will NOT be able to obtain one before they board and therefore will be unable to travel.

To find out more about the US Visa Waiver program you can visit the official Department of Homeland Security website here: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Please also be aware that there are websites that purport to be the official website.