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Bolter01

Travel to the US

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Hi Guys, its been a long time, but I need some solid advice regarding travel to the US as a tourist/ pleasure. I intend to travel late July/ August for 14 - 30 days & I do have a current passport. Now regarding visa's?

 

Just searching I found this ESTA - Electronic System for Travel Authorization. Has anyone used one or have advice?

 

will be most appreciated thx

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thx mate I'll see how it goes, that's gunna be cheaper straight up. Still if anyone has used one please let me know your experience

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Guest MrInsaneBuff

Having traveled to the US for extended holidays twice in the last two years. Yes you MUST do ESTA. Do it direct, i have NFI why people wouldnt and pay more.

 

You also need to ensure that you have an Electronic Passport with more than 6 moths of validity left on it. Be ready to be finger printed and have your photo's taken when you pass through US customs. There are as far as i can tell no exceptions to this for us little people. If you are a diplo or a saudi prince things may be different.

 

Make sure you have booked a hotel for at least one night the first night you get to the states. If you will be there for a while the customs guys want to know an address where you will be staying at which is non residential. THis is mainly to make sure you arent just going to start living there for the rest of your life as an undocumented alien. You don't really need to stay there, its just so that if they are giving you shit, they can call the hotel and get a confirmation that you have a booking there.

 

I would also reccommend having around a grand in currancy on you when you enter the country. It just makes them less nervous.

 

But TBH i doubt you will need to worry about the hotel or cash thing. It's just an added layer in your, "no sir i am not going to start illigally working in your country" defense.

 

Im sure you will have a blast. I did. I have even worked out exactly where i would live if i could manage to move there.

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One comment, an Electronic Passport is not mandatory.

 

*Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended on or after 10/26/06: Passports must also have integrated chips with information from the data page.

*Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended between 10/26/05 and 10/25/06: passports must have digital photographs printed on the data page or integrated chips with information from the data page.

*Machine-readable passports issued or renewed/extended before 10/26/05: no further requirements.

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Has me a little confused, but I haven't been to the States in a couple of years.

 

I've never needed a Visa and been going there on both English and Australian passports for over 30 years although it did tighten up a little after 9/11 but my boss, who had never been before went a few months back at very short notice and had no issues.

 

We are both ex-mil and I've served exchanges with the USAF and worked in Washington, maybe that makes a difference plus I have a clearance card anyway although you still have to queue these days, before 9/11 you could just swipe and go, now they want to print you every time, I guess in case someone stole the card.

 

The cash situation, no, I never carry much cash, live on plastic, but a couple of hundred doesn't hurt I guess.

 

I have to renew my passports soon, sounds like it could be interesting, perhaps I should take up that offer of US citizenship after all, never bothered because its just another passport to pay for and I am a citizen of three countries already, although one has never charged me but when it was first offered I would have had to revoke citizenship to the other countries, they no longer require that.

 

The simplest thing I'd suggest is just give the US embassy a call, pretty friendly people, or your travel agent, if you are using one, ought to know.

 

It's their country, their entry rules, be a little annoying to be refused entry when you've traveled all that way :)

 

I had it explained to me last year by a friend in Washington - whilst Australia and the UK are US allies we have varying standards of entry so someone could much easier become a citizen here, then fly to the US and get up to mischief - makes sense I suppose.

 

It's quite funny really, I traveled there for a number of years with one of my current directors who is ex DFAT, he always gets grilled, I stroll through, no idea why but he's a person I try to avoid travelling with, always gets the third degree whilst I go find bags and a cab :)

 

He hardly looks like a terrorist, perhaps that makes him suspicious in the minds of Customs and Immigration who are in the main hardly rocket scientists :)

 

Have a good trip - it's a nice country despite what many say without ever having been there :)

 

Cheers

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Thanks a lot guys very helpful i'm straight onto it now, nice to here from you MrInsaneBuff having used the ESTA.

 

I am indeed going to have the time of my life!!! : )

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Don't carry a grand in currency with you. Its completely unnecessary. We've never been asked to show how much we've carried, and we typically only carry about a hundred or so. Enough to get out of the airport, enough singles for tipping, and thats about it.

 

ESTA is a must, they will turn you back if you don't have it filled in.

 

Beyond that, its a piece of piss. They'll scan your finger prints, take your photo, and ask general questions about what you're up to. Think more general chit chat than interrogation, but it more depends on the person processing you.

 

Oh, and FYI - the ESTA lasts for 2 years. I say this in case you decide to extend your trip and head to either canada or mexico, and you start freaking out about re-entry.

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Yes, you either need a Visa, or you need to register for the VISA waver program.

 

EDIT: Ah, I see you've already booked it ;)

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If it's just for a holiday and you're an Australian citizen, then I don't see why you can't take advantage of the non-visa 90 day visit thing.

 

I think ESTA was only just coming in when I went in '08, so I just filled out an I-94W form when I landed in the US.

 

I had no issues with giving the address of a friend I was living with over there - a couple actually, all in different states, so maybe that helped. Take a printout of your savings account summary to show you have money to support yourself, tho', because otherwise it's just your word.

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