ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) Application for Citizens of South Korea


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Country: South Korea

ESTA Required: Yes

South Korea is part of the Visa Waiver Program, which enables South Korean citizens to 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 South Korea. 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 a Travel Authorization (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 application process is conducted online and operated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Travel Authorization is not a visa. In fact, a person from a non-visa waiver country should not even attempt to apply for a Travel Authorization. The purpose of ESTA is to allow DHS to pre-screen all Visa Waiver Travelers before they leave their respective countries. U.S. bound South Korean travelers are recommended to apply for the Travel Authorization at least 72 hours prior to departure. An approved Travel Authorization 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.
  • Citizens of one the 37 Visa Waiver Countries (including South Korea) entering the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program should apply.
  • 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?

  • Any person who intends to visit the United States under the Visa Waiver Program and is entering the U.S. by air or sea.
  • Any person transiting through the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Children and infants who are visiting or transiting under the Visa Waiver Program are also required to have an approved ESTA application.

About ESTA Applications

Online Application Process

Application takes less than 5 minutes

Over 99% Approval Rate (Source: DHS)

Mandatory Starting on January 12, 2009

Valid for up to 2 Years