As a New Zealand passport holder, I had to apply for an ESTA and that was just to transit through American airports (two hours in San Francisco which turned into twelve hours and then three hours in Dallas/Fort Worth followed by five hours in Los Angeles). The US Border Protection Services have on their website: "International travelers who are seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are now subject to enhanced security requirements and will be required to pay an administrative fee. All eligible travelers who wish to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program must apply for authorization and then pay the fee using the following process- etc" . Off the top of my head, I think this ESTA costs USD14 per person.
And this is why you might not be eligible for an ESTA:
"Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?
Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?"
There you go!
Boris, the reason you required the ESTA is because there's no such thing as "transit" through the US. I know, it sounds nuts, but you are not allowed to sit in a departure lounge and simply catch your next flight, you MUST be processed by US CBP (Customs & Border Protection.)
That means everyone has to actually legally enter the US... simple transit is not possible...
Thanks again for all your input and kind thoughts everyone.
Just to clarify the embassy issue here - there USED to be multiple embassies throughout this country.
But the American authorities have closed all but one of them. ( not because of lack of requirement )
That remaining embassy is at the other end of the country for me and thousands of miles away.
Once there was one only 25 miles away. Wish it still was.
It is the traveling cost and time to go there that is my real problem - I simply don't have time or money to do that for a possible outcome that might still be no.
As I have said - thousands of dollars and days lost income on top of that.
Thanks for your thoughts again.
I have looked into all the options so I don't see that I am irrational - but that's just my opinion.
I don't think I misunderstood what the people at the American embassy said to me.
I HAVE done research on this - way more than the minimal amount you think I have.
I DO need a visa to go to America - their embassy has told me as such. VWP does not apply here.
This has nothing to do with criminal databases so it does not matter who shares it. Some things would - but this does not.
Believe what you want - there is not more to this than what meets the eye.
To answer your questions -
1) I told them - like an honest person would.
2) It is possible to confirm identity when phoning. As I said before - a phone interview with a Justice Of The Peace present. ( They are a legal judge not in court ) That is proof of identity. What about the thing on your computer called a webcam ??
Scanned documents with originals sent asap are legally acceptable here for everything else that is legal. Why not an American Visa ?
3) Discrimination is NOT acceptable. Full Stop. It is the individual & not the nationality that counts.
I think that accepting discrimination as a criteria for a Visa IS mind boggling. We have obviously been brought up with different standards.
I don't think I have a " holier than thou " attitude about this - I am just disappointed.
I was looking forward to seeing some of the great stuff I keep reading about.
If what I have come up against ( excessive costs and no co-operation ) is standard operating procedure then it is sub-standard. I have not come up against anything like it for any other country.
I HAVE researched this and been in phone contact with the embassy on multiple times - and YES - I DO need to apply for a visa ( not just "ranting" )
True there is always 2 sides to every story as you say. Mine is simple - I was honest about an event that occurred 35 years ago and that means I have to spend many dollars and 3 or 4 days to go tho the embassy for an interview to see if I MIGHT go there. I don't have that sort of spare money or time without pay.
I know that America is hit on hard by illegal immigrants.
But why do they make it so hard for tourists and people just passing through ??
All the best to you too Terry.
Everywhere can be a problem to get into. I have not heard of anyone having any difficulty getting here but I am sure there will be some somewhere.
I still think nationality as a visa criteria is discrimination. It should always be based on the individual - not where they came from.
And I will follow your good advice - go somewhere where there is no stress making it happen
Can't use VWP or ESTA - Need to apply for a visa according to the embassy because of my arrest all those years ago
" for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority " - NO - I actually did nothing !
" Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs? " - Definitely NOT
So why should the rule apply when I don't fit those criteria ?
The American embassy know all this - I answered these questions over the phone once when talking to an embassy official ( Visa dept )
Bureaucracy - don't you love it !!!
" Seems to me the regime are the bad guys not the travelers "
Terry - a question -
Why are you entering America when you are just passing through it ???
My understanding ( what I have been told but may be incorrect ) is that an international airport is international land - not part of any country.
It is when you go through customs / immigration that you enter the country.
All the other countries I have been through operate like this - as long as you stay in the transit area you have not entered the country and their local requirements do not apply.
So why do they in America ?
An ESTA is a travel permit - but there is no travel in America involved in sitting in an airport.
The airports are as Terry describes. Going to Canada, I passed through LA and was asked to fill out an address that I was staying in the US.. When I said I wasn't, they just said to say "Canada".. haha
And it's not just mainland US. Passing through Guam (a US territory in the Pacific), I had to go through all the same US customs hassle. All to just sit in the airport.
The US really should embrace the international lounge concept. Surely it would save their airports and customs a ton of hassle and money.
Anyway, that's just a side issue.
Ok, with that, I'm just going to remove the last few posts between 500GAMMA and CheersT as both of you have indicated you aren't discussing this with each other any more.
Try to keep it nice people.