New rules for US travel

| 02/12/2008

(CNS): With the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) due to take effect next month (12 January), the United States authorities arewarning travellers to be careful of rogue websites offering assistance with ESTA that are charging a fee for what is at present a free service. The new online travel permit applies to nationals of European Countries including the UK, as well as Australians, Japanese and New Zealanders.

Anyone from a country that does not require a visa to enter the United States will now be required to register their trip on line before they leave  at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov which is free. However, websites such as www.esta.us and www.travelauthorization.org with official sounding names are charging unwitting travellers as much as to $250 for their application. “These websites are not endorsed by or affiliated in any way with the US government,” a spokesperson from the US Homeland Security said.

According to the US Department of Homeland Security, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries will be required by law to obtain a travel authorization prior to initiating travel to the United States under the VWP. This authorization may be obtained online through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA™), a free Internet application administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through a US government Web site. The DHS does not charge VWP travellers a fee for completion of an ESTA application

Only Caymanians travelling with a UK passport will need to register their visit on-line, but nationals from any of the twenty-seven countries affected, including European Union states as well as Australia Japan and New Zealand, living in Cayman will also have to register at least 3 days before they are due to enter the US.

Gail Duquesnay of Adventure Travel and the former consular agent for the US in the Cayman Islands told CNS that travellers need to remember that the information they put on-line needs to match the green form they fill in on entry and that the on-line details will need to be edited each time people travel if they are going to a different destination.

“The registration is valid for two years but while your personal information is not necessarily going to change in that period, unless you are taking identical trips every time you go to the US you will need to go on-line and edit the details about where you are staying,” she said, adding that any changes in passport details will also have to be recorded.

She also said that most local agents will help people do the registration if they don’t have access to the internet but that the website was free and there was no need to go to other websites and pay for assistance.  She said that anyone who has a visa for the United States does not need to do this or those travelling with Caymanian passports.

The US Department of Homeland Security said that by the end of last week some 300,000 people from eligible countries have already used the system during its testing phase which started in August. The introduction of ESTA allows travellers to enter the US without a visa and stay for up to 90 days, eventually replacing the written form that has traditionally been used. Authorizations under ESTA will be generally valid for as long as two years or until the applicant’s passport expires.

Travellers using the system must provide biographical data, including their name, birth date, and passport information, along with their destination address in the US, and answer questions regarding communicable diseases, arrests and convictions for certain crimes, as well as any past history of visa revocation or deportation, among others.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I think with ths past attack in India is serious, one should consider should something like that to happen here, do wew have the capability to respond effectively, especially the amount of tourists here,daily. It’s food for thought, who are amoung us and looking at our activities we don’t know.

     

     

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