What’s The Difference Between ESTA And US Visa?

Are you planning a trip to the USA? If yes, all you need to know at first is about the visa you’ll require and apply it in advance of your visit. A trip to a foreign country includes lots of formalities and verification processes, visa being on the top of the list.

Moreover to this, citizens of some qualified countries may be able to travel to the USA without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. Along with this, the purpose of your intended travel and some facts will determine the type of visa it will take to travel under US immigration law.

As an applicant, you need to fulfill all the requirements to get your visa approved for which you are applying.

Coming to the categories of visa, either you require a non-immigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. All the foreigners coming to the USA under the Visa Waiver Program as mentioned earlier requires authorization through ESTA i.e., System for Travel Authorisation system.

And the citizens of those countries which do not qualify for Visa Waiver Program or are traveling to study, work or any purpose that does not fall under a B visa purpose of travel, then they will need a non-immigrant visa.

B1 Visa for the USA


The B1 visa for the USA is for people who are traveling to the USA for business. Generally, the B1 visa is for travelers attending conferences/ conventions regarding science, education, business, investments or profession, negotiating contacts, consulting with business associates, or settling an estate.

The B1 is available for business trips that are of the duration of around six months to one year. This type of visa is generally needed by employees of companies all around the world, where they have their office in the USA which they may need to report regularly or spend a long period of time for some training or other reasons.

B2 Visa for the USA( also called US Visa)

B2 Visa for the USA is for people who wish to travel to the USA for exploring the excellent place, visiting their friends or relatives, or activities of fraternal, social or service nature. It is for a trip which is longer than 90 days.

The B2 visa is often referred to as tourist US Visa and can also be used by people traveling to the USA for getting any medical treatment.

ESTA Visa for the USA

If you want to travel to the USA for short business trips, then ESTA serves the adequate level of authorization. Only those who are eligible and wish to travel under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for ESTA.

The VWP enables the citizens of certain countries to travel to the USA for business or tourism for a stay of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa.

Following things listed below are required to travel to the USA by ESTA authorization.

  • Valid passport from a Visa Waiver Program country.
  • Applicant’s contact information.
  • Valid credit card(MasterCard, VISA, American Express or PayPal to pay for application)
  • Your most recent employment information, if applicable.

Note: Some travelers from Visa Waiver Program country may not be eligible if they have criminal records or have previously overstayed on VWP.

There is a B type of visa too when one is not eligible for ESTA. A B Visa is a category of non-immigrant which is issued by the United States government to foreigners who wish to seek entry for a temporary period. In practice, two subcategories are B-1 and B-2 visa under travel purpose.

It is essential to leave an adequate amount of time for applying and the process of application. Any delay can cause trouble in approvement of your visa. It is suggested that the application should get completed at least 60 days before your intended travel. There is a DS-160 form to be filled. After that, an interview must be arranged with the US Embassy.

About the Author
Rafiqul IslamRafiqul Islam
An engineer by profession, blogger by choice. Rafique is a dreamer, goal achiever who loves .com lifestyle.