Going to the USA: ESTA is no Replacement. Yet.

By | Category: Travel rumblings

I went to the the USA last week for the first time since they introduced the new ESTA rule. To remind you, this is the rule that says you have to apply online before you depart and submit bits of information that you usually filled in on the I-94 form. (You get the I-94 either at check-in or on the flight and you submit that to immigration.)On the ESTA form you covered most of the same details but you also have to submit your accommodation details in the USA and your e-mail address.
According to the US embassy about 30,000 Brits are completing the online form per day.
And so did I.
But I still got given a I-94 on the flight to complete. The cabin crew said that it was still a requirement and not only I queried why I had to complete it as I had already filled in the ESTA form.
On arrival I asked the immigration people and, depending on which one I talked to, got different answers. One said that the ESTA arrangement was still being tested. (Some test given the amount of money that must have been spent)Another said that they were doing it in parallel with the I-94 just in case.
Whatever the real answer is, expect to fill in the I-94 and register online for a little while longer. And don’t be like me and pack your hotel details and your passport in the overhead locker thinking, becuase the ESTA form has been filled in, you won’t the details again until you leave the airport!

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