Latvia joined the United States of America’s Visa Waiver Program (VWP) in 2008. The next year, when USA introduced the Electronic System of Travel Authorization (ESTA), Latvian citizens could apply for admittance into the U.S. online. Making visiting the U.S. more accessible than ever before.
A visa is required in certain situations, and the ESTA is not the same as a visa. The ESTA gives admittance into the U.S. for up to 90 days and can only be used for the purpose of business, tourism (including medical purposes), and to participate in non-credit study programs.
Not having to apply for a visa means Latvian citizens do not have to visit a U.S. Embassy before traveling, saving valuable time. However, if you know you need a visa instead of an ESTA, then make sure to check what kind of visa you need and contact the U.S. Embassy in Riga. If you know you need an ESTA, then apply here.
U.S. Immigration statistics for Latvian visitors (2017):
- The total amount of visitors from Latvia: 27 205
- Approved ESTA applications: 21 459
- Students and exchange visitors: 950
- Temporary workers and family-related applications: 876
- Diplomats and other official representatives: 712
- Other types of visitor categories: 1 121
Traveling to the U.S. From Riga, Latvia
From Riga International Airport (RIX) you can reach the USA with layover or stopover flights. At least 1 stop is needed. Here is a list of cities you can reach on the East Coast with 1 layover stop:
- New York: From 11hours – top pick carriers are Norwegian, Finnair, Air Baltic, and Aeroflot
- Raleigh: From 14hours – top pick carriers is Air Baltic + Delta or American
- Miami: From 14hours – top pick carriers is Air Baltic + Aeroflot/Air France/American/British Airways
- Orlando: From 13hours – top pick carriers is Air Baltic + Delta or Lufthansa
Other cities you can reach with only one layover is Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Denver, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Portland.
Info about Riga International Airport
The airport is located about 20 minutes with car from Riga City Center, in Mārupe Municipality.
Using public transport:
You can take Bus 22 to the airport (the stop is called P133). More info about this bus here. You can also take the Express Minibus 322 or the Minibus 241. There are also many international buses, that is connecting the region, that you can take if you are traveling to Riga from another country. Check out the list here.
When should Latvians apply for the ESTA?
It became compulsory for all ESTA-travelers to apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before boarding the aircraft in late 2018. Moreover, Latvian citizens are recommended to apply weeks or months in advance to make sure that their travel authorization (ESTA) is approved. Getting denied means that applicants must apply for a tourist visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy. If you have plans to visit the United States in the near future, then apply as soon as you can. Read more about the ESTA application here.
Latvian travelers with an approved ESTA can check its status or make updates. Visit this page for more information: verify/update ESTA.
Latvians can apply for ESTA online
The ESTA is valid for 2 years for visitors from Latvia
Latvians can stay in the U.S. for up to 90 days with an approved ESTA
Latvia’s overstay rate is only: 0.94%