While most people who have visited another country know all of the steps to go through for their visit, they are a bit confused by the extra step that is required to visit the USA. This is the ESTA USA authorization that is required for people coming from countries with visa waivers to the USA. It seems like this process is a bit repetitive and most people aren’t really sure when they need to apply or how much information they need to have for the process. Get your own ESTA visa, if you are from Italy: esta stati uniti.
Thankfully, understanding when to apply is rather simple and once you have applied, your authorization is on file for two years unless you change your information. This means that people who travel frequently or people who are thinking of establishing business contacts in the USA don’t have to worry about going through the process more than once every few years.
The ESTA application should really be filled out as soon as you find out that you are traveling and have booked your tickets. There is no penalty for filling this information out early, and the authorization is still good if you decide to change the dates of your trip. You will be similarly protected if you decide not to travel during that year, or if you decide not to travel at all and then apply for new ESTA clearance in a few years. There is no penalty to filling out the application and never traveling and you should never be afraid that the information will be kept or held against you after the two years have expired.
The latest that you should apply for this clearance is 3 days or 72 hours before you are going to depart. This will usually be enough time for you to get everything done, but in extreme cases this could cause a problem. For 99% of people, the process will take only 15 minutes and the results will be back within just a few seconds. However, people with more complicated histories or people who apply during times of high load may find that it takes a little while longer for their application to be processed.
The ESTA USA authorization does remove the need to fill out the 1-94W card when it is being handed out, allowing you to take one bit of paperwork out of the travel process that you would normally fill out for other countries.