Kiwi Flyer reports on the Alice in Wonderland world of ESTA, the US government’s “Electronic System for Travel Authorization.”
Despite the initial promises of saving travellers time by replacing the green I94-W visa waiver entry form, for most the ESTA application is needed as well as an I94-W form.
…I was on one of the trial flights the other day.
…I received a card “I-94W is going paperless” which explains to any check in or gate agent who expects to find a green stub from the I-94W that I legitimately don’t have one.
Hopefully it will be paperless for everyone soon.
When ESTA was introduced, the legislation provided for future introduction of a fee for cost recovery. So far, ESTA is still free (unless you go to one of the many fake sites to register). However, a $10 tourism promotion fee will be charged later this year (date not yet confirmed).
When the fee is charged, effectively ESTA will have transitioned to become a visa, albeit lower cost than regular US visas.
So the paperless system requires paper so that foreign residents and teach US immigration officials about proper new procedures.
And lest we forget, in order to promote tourism, we are going to charge more for tourists to come here.