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Are you an ESTA Applicant? 10 Things to Consider before Immigrating to America

Between adjusting to leaving your friends and family behind, and preparing to immigrate to America you’ll have limited time to solve all your “admin” issues. But you should have ample time to check ESTA application, (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) Visa  and air tickets in advance. Other issues like redirecting your email are easy, compared to opening a bank account in a foreign country. However, it’s advisable to plan well in advance.

Get in the know with this list of 10 things to consider before immigrating to America:

  1. Valid Passport

Most travelers visiting the U.S are required to have a passport whose validity period is not less than six months. Of course, there’re a few exemptions from some countries whose citizens are granted a visa during the length of their stay.

  1. Know the Condition of Your VISA or ESTA

As a traveler to the U.S, it’s important to understand what’s required from you before you’re allowed entry into the country. For instance, the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows individuals from some countries to enter America without a Visa. However, you must apply for an ESTA online prior to your travel.

You MUST meet these requirements if traveling from one of the countries under the VWP:

– Must have an e-passport

– Be a citizen from one of the countries under the VWP.

– You’ll be traveling for business, pleasure or transit purposes.

– Your travel will have to be approved 72 hours before your flight.

What’s the Difference between a Visa and ESTA?

ESTA is not…I say again NOT a visa, though people refer to it as one. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization is applicable to those coming from the 38 countries under the VWP. The major difference between the ESTA and Visa is that the former can be obtained online, whereas to get a visa you’ll have to go to a U.S. consulate or embassy.

A visa is a legal permit to enter the U.S, which is a requirement of all foreigners by law. Lack of visa means you won’t be granted entry into the country.

Another major difference between the two documents is the ESTA allows you a 90 day stay in the country, but a visa is valid for 1 to 6 months. In some instances up to 10 years.

Read more about the difference between an ESTA and a VISA here.

  1. Don’t Overstay Your Admission Period

Overstaying your ESTA or visa has consequences. If you fail to leave the U.S before the 90 days elapse you will be banned from entering America for 3three years. Some get away with it, but your passport will receive an automatic ban….meaning you won’t leave the country without facing the consequences. Your actions can attract a 10-year ban.

Exceptional cases:

There are circumstances that don’t fall under overstaying in the U.S. and, therefore, the three or 10-year bans aren’t applicable.

Here’re a few of the circumstances:

– You’re a minor (under 18)

– Victim of human trafficking

– Waiting for a decision on your Green card

– You’re listed under Temporary Protected Status (TPS)

  1. Finances

Set up your bank accounts; including your savings, deposit and transaction accounts. Most of these can be done online. Apply for your credit card, but make sure you understand the documentation needed to get one in America.

You can also request your bank for a credit reference, which can help you get a visa, loan or rent a house. Also, let your tax office know that you’ll be abroad, and take care of your taxes for the time you’ll be away. Once in the U.S, obtain tax documents (if you’ll be required to pay taxes in America).

  1. Get to Know the Transit Rules

If you’re planning to transit via America (especially those going to South America and Canada) you’ll have to clear with the customs. Technically, “transit” doesn’t exist in the U.S, because every passenger must disembark and clear with the customs and immigration. Essentially, this means you must clear visa requirements for the states.

  1. Accommodation

If you’re being hosted by a friend, lucky you. Get a new address or at least a post office box number that you can give your friends and family back home. If you’re leaving your country for good then pay off your bills and ask for your deposits back.

  1. Work

Notify your current employer in advance that you’re moving to the U.S. and make use of recruitment and migration agents. They are a worthy investment as they can help you settle and find work. Inform your colleagues and anybody who could be the referees of your move. Obtain their contacts (especially email addresses) because potential employers might find it hard to contact them via phone.

Prepare To Pay More

Pay more? You’re asking. When it comes to prices, what you see isn’t what you get. In most states, the prices you see don’t include taxes.

Different states have different tax rates, so it’ll depend on where you’re staying. You should assume a 10% additional payment just to be cautious.  For instance, if staying in a hotel, know that there will be an extra fee for the Wi-Fi, pool, tennis court and others which are not normally advertised online.

  1. Purchase A Transport Security Administration (TSA) Approved Lock

Knowing that your luggage is secure when traveling gives you peace. At least you know your belongings are safe once you leave them during check-in. They’ll be screened at the airport and if the TSA inspectors are suspicious, they’ll physically inspect your bags.

They are allowed by law to break open your luggage. But with a TSA lock, they’ll open using a master key, meaning they won’t break your bags.

  1. Quick tips
  • The emergency services number is 911
  • Make arrangements for your health and travel insurance. Health care cost in America is among the highest, globally
  • America still uses an imperial system. Meaning height is measured in feet, weight in pounds, and distance in miles.
  • Credit and bank cards are the most preferred mode of payment. Let your local bank know you’ll be using your card, or make arrangements to get a bank account in America.

Bottom Line:

With these 10 tips, moving or visiting America should be hassle-free. Before booking your flight, know your visa or ESTA situation, check the status of your ESTA or visa, and get your finances and insurance in order. And lastly, try not to break any laws once in America.