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What is the best, an ESTA or a visa?

This depends on the length of your stay in the United States.

: ESTA gives the opportunity to stay in the United States for up to 90 days. If you want to stay more than 90 days from arrival in the United States, you will have to go through the Embassy.

: ESTA is a perfect document if you are a tourist, a short medical stay, a short language or specialization course (less than 18 hours a week), or if you are in transit to other countries. In addition, in the case of an enterprise, for the sale or purchase of a property, participation in trade fairs or conferences, and also for signatures of documents / contracts, ESTA is the ” Ideal travel authorization.

If the purpose of the trip is to find a job, start studying at a college or university in the United States, or settle permanently, you will be required to apply for an appropriate visa in your case.

Even if you are going to the United States with a private jet, you will have to apply for a visa, type B1 or B2.

If you have already been denied entry to the United States, for the reasons provided by law, the system will recognize you as unfit, and in this case, you will need a visa to return to the United States.

ESTA can not be extended, does not guarantee residency or citizenship, and does not allow you to apply for a green card (US residence) or other types of visas.

Example 1: Laurence
Laurence is an engineering student in France who has just completed her studies. She wants to take part in a summer course in Chicago that lasts two months (60 days). The hours of study are Monday to Friday, from 9 am to 2 pm, or a total of 25 hours per week, at which time a certificate of specialization in system design will be issued.

At first Laurence thought she could travel to the United States with an ESTA travel permit, with a stay of less than 90 days, and her French passport among those admitted to the VWP.

We have informed him that the ESTA allows studies only for a short period, not exceeding 18 hours per week, while its courses are 25 hours per week.

Laurence applied for and obtained a J1 visa at the American Embassy.

Example 2: Lydia
Lydia traveled to the United States since she was little to visit family members living in New Jersey.

After spending so much time visiting the United States, Lydia always wanted to settle there.

Today, Lydia wants to go to the United States, where she hopes to settle permanently with the help of her family.

Lydia thinks that since she is not sure that things will go well, ESTA is the best choice for her. Then she can always change her status with an immigration visa.

In reality this does not work like this:

  • With an ESTA travel authorization it is not allowed to work and receive a salary.
  • If you return to the United States with an ESTA, it will be difficult to change your status to remain indefinitely.

Given this, Lydia opts for a work visa, solicited through the US Embassy.