ESTA in times of CoVid19

Question: How does an ESTA work in times of CoVid19

The outbreak of the novel corona virus is affecting people worldwide. Especially the freedom to travel is strongly restricted. Travel to the USA is also largely prohibited despite valid ESTA permits. Read here all the latest information about CoVid19 and its influence on the possibilities of entering the USA with the ESTA.

Corona CoVid10 Development in the USA

The United States of America has been the most severely affected by the pandemic since the outbreak of CoVid19. At the beginning of June, employees of Johns Hopkins University were already counting more than 1.8 million infections in the country, and the number of deaths is estimated to be as high as during World War I. Particularly affected are the states of California, Illinois and Massachusetts with more than 100 thousand infected persons. In New York, more than 370 thousand people are infected with the virus. In the states of Northern Mariana Islands and US Virgin Islands, the number of infected persons is still below one hundred.

ESTA Application for a visa to enter the USA

Regardless of current entry requirements, ESTA applications are currently being processed and approved by the US authorities. For people planning to travel to the USA in the future, it may be an advantage to apply for approval now. First, the permit is valid for two years and can be used at a later date. On the other hand, the demand for ESTAs will probably be very high after the expiry of the blocking period, i.e. delays may occur. In this context, we also expect a price increase for ESTAs this year and stricter requirements.

Travel to the USA with an ESTA despite CoVid19 Corona Virus

Even with a valid ESTA, NON-US citizens can be prohibited from entering the USA. The nationality of the traveler is not so important, but only in which countries the person has stayed in the last 14 days. These regions currently include the entire European Schengen area, the United Kingdom and Ireland. Since June the airlines Lufthansa and Swiss have been operating routes from Germany to Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington D.C., New York, Denver and Las Vegas. However, all international travelers who are allowed to enter the USA must be prepared for increased controls and, if necessary, a 14-day quarantine.

validity of an existing ESTA Visa Waiver at entry stop

Despite the currently imposed entry ban for the USA, ESTA permits issued remain valid for the usual two-year period. If the passport, to which the ESTA authorization is linked, expires within these two years, the ESTA authorization also loses its validity on this date.

Cancellation of an ESTA

Small forerunners already show that the registration of an ESTA will become more difficult in the future, even in the form of a price increase. Since there is no way to get the ESTA fees refunded and the entry permit with expiring validity expires anyway, it makes no sense to cancel it.

When can I go to the USA again

It is written in the stars when an entry into the states will be regular again. However, in the last few days a lot of easing, border openings and touristic concepts have been initiated, so with a little bit of thumbing down the waiting may soon be over. To stay up to date on all the latest Corona news regarding the USA we recommend these websites:
https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/de/aussenpolitik/laender/usa-node/usavereinigtestaatensicherheit/201382
https://www.cbp.gov/newsroom/coronavirus

circuits from the USA with an ESTA

Unfortunately, leaving or returning home can currently be a long and costly process. In order to obtain the necessary information on safety measures and any required health certificates, contact must be made with the Foreign Office and, if necessary, with the US authorities. A two-week quarantine may be added to this obligation. Furthermore, it is necessary to check which connections are possible and how the transport can be guaranteed. We recommend to include a time and financial buffer for this.

reimbursement of an ESTA due to Corona CoVid19

Since the ESTA authorization is a personalized product, the costs will not be reimbursed by the US authorities, regardless of the reason why the ESTA cannot be used for entry. It may be possible to obtain compensation for costs incurred from a previously purchased travel insurance policy.

*All information is provided without guarantee and without any claim to completeness.