ESTA Required: Yes
Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, has strong ties with the U.S. from both trade and tourism. Australia joined the United States Visa Waiver Program in 1996. On January 12, 2009, the country naturally adopted the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). The ESTA can only be completed online and has since its inception helped both the U.S. and Australia in streamlining the immigration process.
An important distinction to be aware of is the difference between the ESTA and a B-2 tourist visa. They are very different. ESTA is only related to the Visa Waiver Program for entry via air or sea. In some cases, Australians still need to apply for a regular visa to visit the United States. Australians may only apply for an ESTA for business, tourism (including medical purposes) and non-credit study programs. When visiting the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program, Australians are permitted to stay for up to 90 days. An approved travel authorization (ESTA) is normally valid for two years, and can be used multiple times for visits up to 90 days.
- Total amount of Australian visitors: 1 576 901
- Approved ESTA applications: 1 431 077
- Students and exchange visitors: 18 741
- Temporary workers and family related applications: 79 538
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 12 466
- Other types of visitor categories: 2 083
Delta flies direct from Australia (Sydney only) to the U.S. (LAX) in 14-15 hours. Fare prices are kept low due to high competition. LAX is the biggest airport-hub on the west coast with many choices for connecting flights. It is though recommended to schedule extra time for immigration and customs due the large number of visitors passing through LAX.
Australians can also fly non-stop in 13 to 14 hours to San Francisco with Qantas or United Airlines. This route is currently only available from Sydney. San Francisco airport is much smaller than LAX and easier to maneuver through in comparison. As a city, San Francisco is highly recommended to spend a few days in to visit some of the world-famous attractions like Alcatraz and Napa Valley.
Travelers with more time to spend may consider flying to either Los Angeles or San Francisco via Auckland (New Zealand). It will take between 17 to 18 hours to reach the U.S. and can be a good option if time allows. Carriers offering these routes are Air New Zealand (from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane), American Airlines (from Melbourne and, Brisbane) and Air New Zealand (from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane).
Another option is to fly via Hawaii. The carriers offering these routes are Hawaiian Airlines, which flies from Sydney and Brisbane to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland. Depending on the second leg of your flight, it might take from 18 to 36 hours to reach the U.S. mainland.
Three more options that are available include:
- Flying directly to Dallas Worth with Qantas (15 to 16 hours). This is one of the world’s longest direct flights and brings you straight into a major hub with onwards flights within the U.S.
- Flying to New York City with Qantas (from Sydney and Melbourne via Los Angeles), American Airlines (from Sydney only), United Airlines (from Melbourne via Los Angeles or from Sydney via either Los Angeles or San Francisco), Delta (from Sydney only). Most travelers end up with a stopover in Los Angeles or San Francisco.
- Flying to Los Angeles via Fiji. Minimum time spent flying this route is 17 hours and can be strongly recommended for travelers wishing to spend a few days in Fiji on the way. Just remember to the check the weather forecast as Fiji receives heavy rain seasons.
It is now mandatory to apply for an ESTA 72 hours before boarding. However, travelers are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance, to ensure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Non-approved applications mean that a regular B-2 visa must be applied for, which can take weeks or months to complete. If you have plans to visit the United States, apply today or well in advance. Learn more about the ESTA application here.
Travelers with an approved ESTA can verify the status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Australians can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years
Australians can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Australia’s’ overstay rate is only: 0.28%