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back to article US starts charging for online visa-waiver

The US online visa-waiver scheme ESTA starts charging from early next month. Previously British travellers could, under some circumstances, avoid US visa requirements by filling in an online form. The Electronic System for Travel Authorization was only for citizens of countries included in the Visa Waiver Program and was a free …

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Anonymous Coward

Yes, £9 isn't going to be a deal-breaker

but if you can avoid spending money by instead spending two minutes online filling out a form (this is all it takes, I did mine the other night), it seems to me to be a worthwhile investment. Besides, who's to say they won't jack it up to £20 or more sometime in the near future?

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Anonymous Coward

Did you read the article??

It's free online now but won't be at the end of the month...

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Bronze badge

guessing he did

...but you can apply now and your application will be valid for 2 years...

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

I believe the 'investment' he was referring to was the 2 minutes of his time it took to fill it out. Note the "you can avoid spending money by..." part.

To the poster below, Re:I-95W, They have started phasing out the I95-W form and last time I went to the states it was not requred, only the blue customs declaration.

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FAIL

Gits.

Making it cheaper to visit would be a more effective way of promoting tourism.

Which person in Europe should we start lobbying to get some sort of tit-for-tat charge set up?

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*sigh*

Just a shame that border control still seems to want you to fill out the I-95W form, even though this is meant to replace it.... what a waste of time :/

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As long as we're doing the same in return...

No doubt the proverbial would hit the fan in America if the whole EU made a similar charge in return. After all, all's fair in love and war... :-)

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FAIL

Re As long as we're doing the same in return.

You haven't thought that through.

Giving an American company such as EDS a shedload of money for an on-line system that would be cancelled by the new government after the next general election because it was over-budget, way behind schedule, and didn't work?

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Welcome

Well...

We could just keep it simple:

At the airport:

British customs official: "Passport please"

*American tourist hands over passport*

Customs official: "Ah you're american, in that case it will be $100 or £100 (because that's how exchange rates work according to American companies) to enter the country"

Tourist: *paying* "Why?"

Customs official: "To pay to replace that tea that ended up in Boston harbour. Have a nice day!"

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Pint

Re: Well...

Actually that's pretty much how it works in Cambodia the last time I was there, but it's $20, oddly enough US currency only please. I guess $20 sounded so much cheaper than 80,000 Riel.

Now then, is all this US bashing everyone does really about that little tea incident? Here I thought it was about the things we don't like ourselves, you know the stupid political policies and warmongering. Hell, if it's just over a bit of tea I'm sure we can arrange to have it replaced with something much better, a nice pu-erh perhaps.

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FAIL

The War on Tourism

So let's see if I follow this...

They're going to charge you to print a piece of paper yourself at home before you travel.

Then they're going to use the money to try to persuade the people who've said 'f*** that for a game of soldiers' to go there on holiday?

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Unhappy

You obviously dont fly RyanAir

With RyanAir, you pay £5 for online checkin, that is for the privilege of you printing your boarding pass on your printer with your paper and your ink.

The US imigration just decided to learn from the masters of fleecing.

(The other £5 charge that gets up my nose is the card charge per leg per passenger, so 2 people travelling a return journey costs £20 to process one card transaction, so expect a card processing fee on a US website near you soon.)

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Seems to me it's time we start charging too

After all, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

If they charge us, it's only fair that we are reciprocal and charge them in return. Visa Waiver was supposed to make things easier for 'trusted' nations. Now it's a return to what appears to be a visa-by-stealth. £9 may not be much, but it's the principle that counts.

Brazil had it right, perhaps the EU should follow its example.

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FAIL

Come into my parlor, said the spider ...

"The fee will apparently go towards promoting US tourism."

Promoting tourism by making people pay more to access your locked down police state ?

Next thing you'll know they'll start charging people for mandatory cavity searches to improve tourist health care ...

Anon for obvious reasons.

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Paris Hilton

Run that past me again?

They're going to raise money to promote tourism by charging people to enter the country?

Wouldn't it be better promotion if they payed us to visit the place?

Although even then I still wouldn't go.

Paris, cos she has never ever payed to enter anything.

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So why don't we?

Given 2012 will see a huge number of foreigners turning up for the crock that is the Olympics, surely we could recoup some of the money spent on it by charging £9 a pop for similar visa waivers?

I know it seems tit for tat, but it works for countries like Brazil - only US citizens are made to queue up and give their thumb print on entry. They're not used for anything. It's just that the US do it to Brazilians so they decided to do it back ;)

If I'm correct, the US fee is even for people transferring at a US airport and going somewhere else. You don't even need to be going through immigration to have to have filled the thing in. Bit of a cheek, frankly, but in these economic times...

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Black Helicopters

Good point

Well done pointing that out; it hadn't registered but of course that will be the case.

Since 9/11 it hasn't been possible to change planes in the US without officially entering the country. I did this at LAX a few years ago, pulling up to the gate in one aircraft (which was, incidentally, right NEXT to the aeroplane we were about to get on) and then jumping through hoops just to end up back at the very same part of the airport.

We had to go through passport control, get our bags, check in again, go back through (comically inept) security and the whole process took an unnecessary hour-and-a-half.

"How long have you been in the United States?" asked the bored and tragically stupid passport checker as she looked at my still-wet entry stamp.

"About half an hour," I replied, deadpan.

"And what was the purpose of your visit?"

"To stay in the airport and avoid seeing any part of L.A."

I did at least get a wry smile for that...

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Alien

I'm suprised...

you didn't get the rubber glove treatment for taking the mike.

(See southpark for the reason for the icon...)

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Regarding "tragically stupid", perhaps an explanation?

http://www.loweringthebar.net/2010/07/tsa-advertising-job-openings-on-top-of-pizza-boxes.html

The friendly skies just got a little scarier.

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Flame

Aircraft transfers.....and refueling

You are forgiven for coming to the logical and sensible conclusion that for transfers you sould not need to go through immigration, but you would be wrong. You do need to go through immigration for transfers.....or even no more than a flight refueling.

Last time I went to New Zealand we had a refueling stop in the the good old landofthefreeandbrave, and queued for 2 hours to be fingerprinted and photo'd through the single immigration officer into the special holding area about 50m from the aircraft. The second the last person in the queue was 'immigrated', we then queued up to processed back onto the same aircraft.. Whole process took hours. That was just annoying, but it was compounded by the most rude self important arrogant Immigration officer i have ever witnessed.

I have never been back to America, never want to, and I insist that any flight I take for work or holidays do not go anywhere near there, and now they want to charge me!

\icon of the fire that needs to be lit under their arrogant stupid asses\

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FAIL

Promoting US tourism...

... by changing more for it.

Icon says it all.

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WTF?

(title)

So let me get this straight.

You can avoid purchasing a visa, so long as you apply weeks in advance and pay an up-front fee for a background check, the results of which (along with fingerprints, bank details and other ID) are stored against your passport number perpetually.

Anyone care to enlighten me as to how, exactly, this is not a visa?

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F.

"The fee will apparently go towards promoting US tourism."

My brain exploded.

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Anonymous Coward

So who wants to voluntarily go through US customs?

The US Customs should be renamed: "The Office for the Harassment of Travellers". Can't imagine a sane person wanting to vacation in the US when there are loads of other places to go.

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Anonymous Coward

bleh

And a 'sane' person would write of visiting a whole country because of the 5-30 mins it takes to get through Immigration?

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WTF?

Office of harassment of travelers

I understand that's actually a registered trademark of the TSA - the us gov department that has now banned SnowGlobes in your carryon!

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Anonymous Coward

It's the 5 to 120 min of abject terror

Have you ever been sent for a 'special' interview?

I don't want to go there again, and I *have* a visa.

Anon, in case it helps...

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Yes

When there are plenty of other countries with sane immigration and better gun control. I should say so.

There are bits of the US I'd like to see. In the meantime, Peru and elsewhere can have my tourist £££

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FAIL

5-30 mins through Immigration

Are you kidding, or just exceptionally lucky? Last time I went it was over two hours....and as I was traveling Business I was allowed to be first off the aircraft and allowed to be nearly the first to joint the back of the existing queue. I heard later that it was over another hour wait for those at the back of the queue, and by the time they had got through they had closed down the lugage retrieval and everyone had to search through a huge pile for their suitcases.

Yep. Anyone traveling, let alone with young children, are just 'insane' not to want to put themselves through that when there are so many other nicer and more welcoming places in the world

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Linux

Hypocrisy

If I remember correctly, it was some lunatic Congressman or Senator who dreamt up the scheme for charging for the visa waivers to avoid adding to the US Deficit. To subsequently use such funds for promoting inward Tourism to the US is hypocritical in the extreme!

Why cannot the US Congress be honest with the entire US Tourism Industry?

Guys, you are just going to have to get by on domestic tourism! Forget marketing overseas...we really do not want any "aliens" coming to the US whether from "friendly" or "not so friendly" countries. They are ALL a risk!

By the way, while we are about it, you large US Air Carriers with international routes better reduce your frequencies!!!! There's going to be little growth on international routes for the next few years.

The additional staff laid-off and increasing unemployment numbers - tough!

No wonder Disney, Wynns Casinos et al are opening up theme parks outside the US. The decrease in "alien" tourism will leave little room for growth in coming years!

Not only has the US succeeded in destroying any sympathy and support it had among a bulk of the world's nations, it is now succeeding in ruining what little sympathy it has left in so-called allied and friendly countries.

Mine's the Catholic Cardinal for Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien! He told the U.S. what it was all about last week-end!

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Grenade

promoting US tourism

It might work, if they spend it to encourage immigration officers and politicians to treat foreigners better. However, that might clash with anti-corruption laws.

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Interesting point of view

When, in fact, tourism in the US fell last year roughly in line with all other markets in a depressed economy and all available numbers and forecasts for this year suggest that foreign visitors to the US will increase this year and exceed 2008.

Of course you won't be welcome so none of this applies.

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Bah'.

If only the nine quid went on providing more customs officers in arrivals. I've frequently spent more than two hours waiting to get through arrivals.

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Unhappy

Maybe that's what they are trying to do ?

All that security costs money.

The EU is changing borders all the time, so just because you have an EU passport does not entitle you to entry. Just like antivirus with a moving target.

Not having a go at you Sir, but maybe there's reasons for these costs and staff attitude. Faced with an ever-more-difficult job I'd certainly get bad tempered at times. Wouldn't you ?

The current way things are puts me off visiting. Shame.

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EU does the same

Good for US!.

All EU countries does the same for "untrusted" poor countries. And it is way more expensive then what US charges (in the order of 50Eur). Oww and you cannot get your money back if your application is rejected. More importantly, if you are going to some country other than US/Canada through a EU airport you have to pay for the same fee.

Believe me after getting a phd degree in an EU country and going through those inhuman visa procedures does not feel nice.

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Linux

EU does the same → #

Actually I agree with you!

Globalisation and freedom of movement of goods, services (including media and the 'net) has been all the rage for the past two decades.....

Humans....apart from within a group of EU countries.... forget it!!!!

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Grenade

£9 may not seem much

But for me that would become £36 (£9 x4 people). I agree with the others who have suggested this - we should cross-charge!

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Anonymous Coward

Well...

I've still got my unlimitted and indefinite visa from back in the day (unlimitted visits, indefinite stay, just can't work while I'm there) so the £9 doesn't bother me. But it wouln't anyway since I'm never going back to that s*** hole.

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FAIL

Me too

I've got no end of unlimited and indefinite visas for the US. Sadly, all expired.

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FAIL

They don't get it

The US has a bad enough reputation anyway, and now they want to charge me to come in, ha. Don't think I will bother.

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Thumb Down

Yet another reason...

... not to visit the Land of the Fee...

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FAIL

fraud/phishtastic!

So, those dodgy ESTA websites that charge people are gonna have a field day now!

Previously travel agents were able to advise people that if the website is trying to charge them for their ESTA application then they are on the wrong (and potentially very dodgy) website.

Now all the dodgy websites need to do is say that the fee has increased and the average traveller will have no clue - until they get to immigration at the destination airport and find out that they're not allowed in because their ESTA isnt valid because the site they went to and paid £40 to was fake! They'll probably then at that point try to book a return flight only to find out those damn fraudsters have also maxed out their credit card!

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Unhappy

£9, why not make it £9 million

Wouldn't matter to me, never going to go there again while they fingerprint everyone.

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FAIL

Not going there

Back in 2001 I told my American friends that they wouldn't see me back in the USA (oops, made a slip there and typed USSA instead!) unless the restrictions and hassle got better, instead it has got worse. To be fair, so has the UK's immigration as well. So they haven't lost out from me not going there because I wasn't going anyway. But as a PR move it's definitely an own goal, 9 quid isn't much (unless you have a large family) but the psychological impact is much bigger.

As for tit-for-tat, though, I'm opposed to it. I have no objection to Americans visiting the UK while we avoid the USA, because it means that their balance of trade gets worse, so I'd encourage them to come here and spend their dollars (turned into pounds, of course).

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Anonymous Coward

So stay at home...

where over the last decade many schoolchildren haven't been able to take school library books out without being fingerprinted. Where on a mere whiff of being associated with a crime (or not) you can be swabbed and your DNA recorded, where you haven't been able to take photos in public without harassment and bullying from the police. Yes, some of this is being dismantled, but the list goes on. Living in the UK, I think fingerprints as you go into the US would still be the least of your worries.

Alternatively, come to Canada - the water's lovely, if a little colder, and freedom isn't yet just another word for nothing left to loose.

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Silver badge

@So let me get this straight

Not quite, you still have to fill in the green form, this is just an online version of the green form that might one day replace it - if they ever manage to get their systems lined up.

The problem is that the green form gets collected when you leave - under the new system you would need to go through a new layer of US immigration at the departure gate so they could record that you left the country,

Then you have the problem at land borders where there is no US immigration on leaving, now you just mail them the green form when it's expired. With the new efficient electronic system they have to build immigration posts at the exit as well as the entrance to record you leaving.

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Stop

eh?

Got back last week. 100% no green form! Only form to fill in was the Customs form, and even the Americans have to complete that.

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JCL

Not quite true everywhere

At the Canadian border you hand the green card in to the Canadian border staff who pass them back to the Yanks.

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Megaphone

The anti-American sentiment on here is ridiculous

And I think I am right to say it is anti-American, not anti-immigration or anti-the-previous-government. Virtually every American I have met, both here in the UK and on trips to the States or anywhere else is a great person and the sentiment on the comments forums on this site is often at best childish and normally just xenophobic.

Yes the charge is a pain and yes the website could be a lot better (at least they have got rid of the silly pop-up warning box now) and it would be nice to have the confirmation emailed to you, but really, it takes a minute to fill in, the money, even for a large family is no big deal once you have paid for flights (and with a large family, I am assuming you’re travelling at peak, expensive times so the kids aren’t missing school) and you don’t actually need to print it, it is on file and they know if you have one or not.

I get through customs in no time. Sometimes you get a nicer person than others, but that’s the same in any customer-facing business (it’s just here you have no choice). Sometimes it takes a little longer, but never hours and you’d just be waiting for your luggage anyway.

I just suppose this charge now gives the abusers something to pin their hatred on (along with policies of a previous president), rather than just admitting to themselves they are xenophobic.

Vent over. I’ll relax now.

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Welcome

To clarify ...

It is not the American -people- I (and most people posting here) have a problem with.

It is the decrepit, lobbyist-riddled, fearmongering, self-perpetuating/expanding bureaucratic machine that is their government (agencies) that constantly insists on shooting new holes in their own feet by imposing a new ridiculous rule to stopgap a non-existent deficiency pointed out to them by a fringe group.

This is the problem people have.

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