Find out what the immigration regulations for the USA are in plenty of time. Check to see whether you meet the requirements for visa-free immigration, as otherwise you will require a visa. You will find all the necessary information here.
Anyone who wishes to enter the USA must have a visa. Under certain conditions, passengers may enter without a visa. In order to do this, you must meet the following requirements:
There are currently 37 countries in the Visa Waiver Programme. Nationals from these countries may enter the USA without a visa and remain there for up to 90 days.
Anyone who wishes to enter the USA without a visa must have a valid passport. The passport must be valid for the period of intended stay. Other passport requirements depend on the date your passport was issued:
For visa-free immigration into the USA, it is essential that you have the ESTA electronic travel authorisation.You will not be allowed to enter the country without this document. You must apply for the travel authorisation at least 72 hours before departure. It is valid for two years and allows repeated entries into the country provided your passport does not expire during this period. You can update your details and travel destinations on the ESTA website at any time. There is a charge for these changes of US$ 14 per entry.
Airlines are obliged to transmit the details of all passengers to the US authorities on the day of departure. This is done using the Advanced Passenger Information System (APIS). The information that is recorded includes your name, passport number and the address where you will be staying in the USA. Specific and complete details will spare you any unpleasantness at your destination airport. The easiest thing to do is to transmit your data online in advance. If this is not possible, the details will be taken at the check-in machine or when you check-in at a counter.
Anyone entering the USA is obliged to provide their details to the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA). This information is then compared with the "watch lists". These details consist of the full name, date of birth and gender (legal basis 49 U.S.C. item 114 of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 and 49 C.F.R parts 1540 and 1560). People who do not provide this information may be refused carriage or admission to the gate. Travellers with a redress number must provide it.
The TSA may compare the data you provide with data from penal facilities, news agencies and other authorities (in accordance with the published system of records notices).
Passengers with direct flights to the USA may be subjected to an additional security check at the departure gates. The functionality of electronic devices may also be tested. It is advisable to ensure that your mobile phones, laptops, tablets, cameras or other electronic devices are fully charged. Devices with flat batteries may not be taken on board.
Also take note of the automated passport control (APC) at various US airports.