Singapore Citizens-Here's How ESTA Works for You
Just like many other 38 other countries, Singapore is a part and parcel of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) allowing the Singapore citizens the chance to travel to the U.S. without the need of applying for a visa. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA became a requirement on 12th, January 2009 for countries within the VWP. ESTA is an application system designed to cater for all travelers to the United States from all the Visa Waiver nations of which Singapore is a part of. Through the VWP, traveling to the U.S is a very simple affair for lots of visitors where only a readable passport by a machine is required.
Today, as a result of improved and required security regulations, visitors have to apply for ESTA before they travel, essentially 72 hours before they have boarded for the U.S. An e-passport or machine readable passports provided by Singapore or a Visa Waiver nation is still a requirement for a traveler to be admitted into the United States. The whole application for the ESTA process is carried out on the internet and operated by USDH or U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
It is worth noting an Electronic System for Travel Authorization is nonetheless not anywhere close to a visa. Essentially, if you are from a country that does not participate in the VWP, you should not waste your time applying for an ESTA, whose purposes is allowing the Department of the Homeland Security a chance to pre-screen every traveler under the traveler waiver program prior to leaving his or her home country. As a Singapore citizen traveling to the United States, it is recommended that you apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization for about 72 hours before you depart for the United States. At the same time, it is worth noting even after the Travel Authorization has been approved it is not a guarantee you will enter the United States, but mandatory for those who aim to travel through the sea or air to the United States.
Crucial ESTA facts
The Electronic System of Travel Authorization of the United States is not a visa but a pre-authorization allowing a travel to board an airplane or ship bound for the United States. ESTA's main purpose is letting the government of the United States to pre-screen every traveler under the Visa Waiver Program prior to departing from Singapore or any other country participating in the VWP. While you have about three days to apply for ESTA before boarding for the U.S., know that once an ESTA application has been denied you might have no other choice but apply either for a B-2 Tourist or B-1 Visitor Visa. Again, successful application of ESTA does not mean you will have an automatic entry into the United States.
Those who should do an ESTA application
Beginning from 12th, January 2009, citizens of countries under the Visa Waiver Program must make an application for ESTA if they are to be eligible for entry into the U.S. territory. ESTA visa is usually valid for about two years with the individual who has made the application only required to update it in case he or she intends to make future visits through the Visa Waiver Program.
After 26th, October 2006, passports issued after or on this date by a country participating in the VWP must be uniquely e-Passport if travelers are to be eligible to be admitted into the U.S. without the need of a visa. The e-Passports have integrated computer chips that can store biographic data page details including any extra biometric information such as the e-Passport holder's digital photograph.
In case of a passport without this important feature, you can still travel under the VWP as far as the passport is valid and issued before 26th, October 2005 with a zone that is machine readable or a valid passport issued between 26th October 2005 and 25th October 2006 with a digital photo included. For those whose passport were issued after or on the 26th of October 2006 and lack this important features, they have to seek a visa.