What is better, the ESTA or a Visa?

The considerations to make when you want to choose between an ESTA and a visa are addressed to the duration of the stay from the arrival date, and the purpose for which you are traveling in the United States.

Time: The ESTA offers the possibility to remain in the United States not more than 90 days. If you want to stay more than 90 days from the arrival in the American territory, you will require a visa at the embassy.

PURPOSE: The ESTA is a perfect document if you are traveling for tourism, short-term medical care reasons, language studying or specializations (less than 18 hours per week), and if in transit status to other countries. In addition, in the case of business travel, as sale or purchase of real estate, participation in trade fairs or conferences, and even for signatures of documents / contracts the ESTA is ideal.


In the case that the purpose of the journey is looking for a job, starting studies in a College or in an American University, or settling permanently in the United States, it will be mandatory to require a visa that is appropriate to your case.

Also in the case in which you would enter in the USA with a Private Jet you will need to get a visa, either type B1 or B2.

If a previous entry in the United States was denied, or a non-immigrant visa, or there was a violation of terms and conditions applicable to an already obtained visa, or if you received a criminal conviction, the system will recognize you unsuitable, so to enter the USA you will need to apply for a visa.

The Esta cannot be prolonged, doesn’t guarantee residence or citizenship, doesn’t allow to apply for the Green Card (residence in the USA) or other kind of Visas.

male-headshotExample 1: Luigi

Luigi is a student of engineering in UK that has just finished his studies at the faculty of engineering of London. He wants to take part in a summer course in Chicago, that will last for two months (60 days). Study hours are Monday to Friday from 9am to 14pm. 25 hours weekly which eventually will issue Luigi a certificate of specialization in the design of theme parks.

At first Luigi had thought of being able to travel with an online travel authorization. His stay would have lasted less than 90 days, and his Italian passport is among those allowed to travel under the program travel without visa.

After contacting us Luigi was informed that what at first glance looked like the more quick and exact choice, it didn’t actually correspond to his needs. The Esta allows you to study in the US for a short period, which does not exceed 18 hours a week. On the contrary, Luigi’s course lasts 25 hours a week.

On this basis, Luigi proceeded to the request for a student visa type J1 at the USA Embassy in London.

female-headshotExample 2: Mary

Mary began to travel in the USA since she was a child, thanks to the fact that they have relatives living in New Jersey. Relatives with whom Mary is strongly connected.

These trips have made our protagonist desire to create her own future in the USA.
Today Mary is an adult and want to move out the United States for a while, where she hopes to settle permanently with the help of her family.

Mary thought that not being sure if things would work out, Esta would have been the best choice for her. Eventually, she would have changed his immigration status with a visa.
Actually, things don’t work like that:

  • – With a travel authorization working and receiving a salary is not allowed.
  • – If you enter the USA with a travel document, it will be very difficult to change the migration status if you wish to remain indefinitely.

In the light of things, Mary opted to apply for a work visa from the nearest US Embassy.

Get your ESTA Visa in 3 easy steps!


1. Complete the application form in full.


2. Confirm personal and payment information.


3. Receive a confirmation email from us shortly.