There’s been a lot of press recently over the USA’s immigration policy, however it still remains a destination of choice for many business travellers. A good travel management company will help arrange your immigration applications, as well making sure your flights, hotels, and transportation are all in place. For those planning a business trip to the states, the immigration process can be quite daunting so we’ve created the below to ensure that you have a stress free experience when you arrive.
Here are a couple of things you need make sure are in place before travelling to the states...
First things first, you'll need at least 6 months left on your passport to be able to fly to the states, if using a corporate travel company this information will be held on your traveller profile form but if not, just make a note to check your passport expiry date.
The ESTA or the Electronic System for Travel Authorisation came into effect in 2009 when it replaced the old VISA waiver programme (completed previously onboard the aircraft). This necessary document costs just $14, lasting for a maximum stay of 90 days, but must be applied for at least 72 hours in advance of your business trip.
An ESTA can only be applied for if you are a national of a country where previously you could travel as part of the VISA waiver programme (list of eligible countries HERE). If you are not, then a traditional VISA application will be required for travel. This must be applied for via the US Consulate/Embassy. (a good corporate travel agency can offer assistance on this helping you to obtain the relevant documentation before you fly)
Pre Clearing US Customs quicker
If travelling via Southern Ireland, you can now clear through US Customs and Immigration in Ireland. The procedure consists of a series of questions and being shown an image of your bag whilst you confirm your property brought from the UK mainland. It a painless clearance and takes roughly 20 minutes, significantly reducing the time spent in lengthy queues upon arrival into the US. This is a great benefit for those travellers flying through regional airports and when you do need to take two flights to get to the states, this can be a great timesaver.
On top of this UK citizens are eligible for Global Entry into the US. Benefits to Global Entry include not only the reduced waiting times at major US airports but include the following; No processing lines, no paperwork, access to expedited entry benefits in other countries and TSA pre-check availability.
To be able to obtain Global Entry a traveller must first apply to the UK Home Office before submitting a Global Entry application.UK citizens have to apply through the GOV.UK website and pay a £42 processing fee. Upon passing the UK vetting process, they will receive a “UK Access Code” which will then be entered when applying for Global Entry through the Global Online Enrollment System (GOES). The non-refundable application fee for a five-year Global Entry membership is $100 and applications must be made online. Once the application is approved, a CBP officer will conduct a scheduled interview with the applicant and then make a final eligibility determination.
We hope these tips have been of use. A good business travel agent can offer assistance on all of the above, as well as 24hr assistance from a Duty of Care perspective (especially handy when in a US timezone) should you need it as well as competitive air, hotel and ground transportation products. If you have any tips for first-time business travellers embarking on a journey to the states then we’d love to hear from you! Just comment in the box below...