No More Paper I-94s for ESTA Travelers: Streamlining US Entry Process

Updated on Jul 07, 2024 | Online US Visa

I-94 Form Elimination is Underway. To enter the United States at a land border crossing, travelers from one of the VWP (Visa Waiver Program) nations have had to complete a paper I-94 form and pay the required fee for the past seven years.

The ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization), which has up until now only been necessary for non-citizens who entered the country by air or sea, will take the place of this requirement as of May 2, 2022.

Although CBP (Customs and Border Control) has the final say on whether a tourist can enter the country, ESTA offers a kind of "pre-approval."

The main modification is that this system has been enhanced to include land crossings. The objective is to increase entrance processing efficiency, improve national security through improved traveler screening, and provide a more up-to-date and uniform VWP admission policy at land border crossings. The CBP and VWP travelers will both save money and time with the new method.

The ESTA rules for land crossings will henceforth be the same as they have been for sea and air borders, with one significant exception. While visitors from VWP nations arriving by sea or air must get an approved ESTA and provide their sea or air carriers with the relevant information before they are allowed to board the ship or plane,

Land-based tourists (usually in personal automobiles) will only need to obtain ESTA authorization before presenting themselves to the Canadian Border Patrol.

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The Visa Waiver Program: What Is It?

  • The VWP, or Visa Waiver Program, enables qualifying nationals of 40 countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business and remain without a visa for up to 90 days. 
  • After arriving in the U.S., visitors who entered under the VWP program often cannot modify their status or lengthen their stay.
  • The right to travel under the VWP will be forfeited, and those who stay in the U.S. for an extended period risk being exposed to further penalties under the US legislation.


How Can I Submit an ESTA Application for a Group?

The Value of Early Application

Suppose a visitor from a VWP nation arrives at a land border crossing in the United States without having obtained a legal travel authorization but chooses to do so. In that case, they will be permitted to revoke their entry request.

 After that, the person must travel back to Canada or Mexico and apply for an ESTA there. Before returning to the port of entry into the United States, they will have to stay there until they are given travel authorization.

A valid ESTA can be used for several entries and is usually valid for two (2) years. 

People who already have an ESTA that has been approved can utilize that to apply for entry into the U.S.

They do not have to reapply for one when they arrive at a land border crossing in the United States.

The applicant will no longer be eligible to seek admission to the United States through the Visa Waiver Program if the ESTA application is denied. Instead, he or she must go to a US consulate abroad and apply for a non-immigrant B visa before reapplying for US entrance.

PLEASE NOTE: If Canadian nationals wish to visit the United States by sea or air, neither a visa nor an ESTA application is necessary. Land border crossings will now be subject to a similar exception.

Correction of Errors on US Visa Online Application.

The Application Process for ESTA

Applications for ESTA must be submitted online using the ESTA website. 

The ESTA application form asks for the same information that has now been part of the paper I-94W form, which is good news for folks who are used to filling out I-94W forms. 

CBP will check the information that an applicant submits in their ESTA application against various databases, including watch lists and databases for stolen and lost passports. CBP has the authority to deny an ESTA request in any of the following situations:

  • The application endangers American security or law enforcement.
  • The applicant gave incorrect information and is not a citizen of the United States.
  • The applicant failed to supply the required information and is not a citizen of the United States.
  • The applicant's ineligibility for entry into the US under the VWP is supported by evidence.

Non-US citizens who have had their ESTA applications rejected will still be able to apply for a visa to enter the country by going to the relevant U.S. consulate or embassy.

You must return to the ESTA website to determine whether your application was accepted. CBP needs at least two hours to decide on an ESTA application, but it may take much longer in specific circumstances. However, candidates will typically receive a decision within 72 hours.

Call the ESTA Help Desk if you need assistance processing your pending ESTA application.


The U.S. State Department is continuously working to improve the situation regarding visa applications at its consular offices around the world. Learn more at American Organizations to Hire More People to Handle Visa Applications

Amendments to ESTAs and their Duration

As previously stated, once authorized, an ESTA is typically good for two (2) years and can be used for multiple entries into the United States through ports of entry on land, by sea, and now by air.

If any of the following apply, travelers from VWP nations who already have an approved ESTA must apply for a new one:

  • The person modifies his or her name
  • Their old passport has been replaced with a new one because it has expired.
  • They change their gender.
  • He or she no longer holds citizenship in the nation named in the authorized ESTA document
  • Any "yes" or "no" response on the ESTA application form has been altered.


Managing US Visa Online Technical Issues

Check your eligibility for US Visa Online and apply for US Visa Online 72 hours in advance of your flight. British citizens, Spanish citizens, French citizens, Japanese citizens and Italian citizens can apply online for Electronic US Visa. Should you need any help or require any clarifications you should contact our US Visa Help Desk for support and guidance.