Japan is part of the Visa Waiver Program, which enables Japanese citizens to submit an ESTA application for travel to the United States without a visa. On January 12, 2009, ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorization) became a requirement of the Visa Waiver Program. ESTA is an application system for all travelers from Visa Waiver Countries, including Japan. The Visa Waiver Program has simplified travel to the United States for millions of visitors by only requiring a machine-readable passport. Now, due to heightened security regulations, the same visitors must apply for ESTA in advance. As always, a machine-readable or e-passport from a Visa Waiver country is still required to gain admittance into the country. The entire ESTA visa application process is conducted online and operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
The travel authorization is not a visa, however some travelers refer to it as “ESTA Visa” because it is similar in many ways. A person from a non-Visa Waiver country should not apply because it only allows travel for citizens of the VWP. The purpose of ESTA is to allow DHS to pre-screen all Visa Waiver travelers before they leave their respective countries. U.S.-bound Japanese citizens are recommended to apply for the Travel Authorization at least 72 hours prior to departure. An approved “ESTA Visa” does not guarantee entry but is a prerequisite to travel to the United States by air or sea carrier.
Important Facts About ESTA:
- ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization) is not a visa. It is a pre-authorization to board a U.S.-bound ship or airplane.
- The purpose of ESTA is to let the U.S. government pre-screen all Visa Waiver Travelers before they leave their respective countries.
- Japanese citizens and citizens of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program may apply online.
- It is recommended to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours prior to departure.
- If your ESTA Application is denied, you will be required to apply for a B-1 Visitor Visa or B-2 Tourist Visa.
- An approved ESTA Travel Authorization does not guarantee entry in to the United States.
Why should I apply for ESTA?
- Starting on January 12, 2009 citizens from Visa Waiver countries must apply for ESTA (U.S. Travel Authorization) in order to be eligible for admittance into the United States.
- The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for up to two years and can easily be updated for future visits.
Who needs to apply for ESTA?
- Travelers who intend to visit the United States under the VWP and is entering the U.S. by air or sea.
- Travelers transiting through the United States under the VWP.
- Children and infants who are visiting or transiting under the VWP are also required to have an approved ESTA application.
About ESTA Applications
Application can be completed within 15 minutes.
Above 99% of applications are approved.
Validity lasts up to two years.
Mandatory: January 12, 2009
Japanese nationals can apply online.