There are many criteria to differentiate the B2 visa from the ESTA. The 5 main differentiating elements are cost, time to obtain, conditions of attribution, and duration of validity.
An ESTA is an authorization while a tourist visa allows you to reside in the United States. However, eligibility criteria apply.
The differences between an ESTA and a B-2 tourist visa
|B2 Tourist Visa||ESTA|
|Definition||The B2 visa is a temporary residence visa for non-immigrants for tourist, commercial, or medical reasons.||The Electronic Travel Authorization System is an intelligence system used by the United States Department of Homeland Security.|
|Application fees||160$ but additional fees may apply (the amount varies depending on the country) These are “delivery fees”.||14$ on the official U.S. government website but can vary between 20 to 60$ per traveler if you go through sites offering assistance services.|
|Timeframes to obtain||A few weeks to a few months by mail with your passport.||72 hours by e-mail|
|Award conditions||Beforehand: interview in English at the American Embassy to verify your eligibility.||No interview is required, form to be filled in online (10 minutes duration)|
|Duration of validity + length of stay||6 months (as soon as it expires, you must return to your country of origin).
Possibility of extension for another 6 months ( if the request is made 42 days before the expiry date).
|The length of stay is 90 days.
This permit can be used several times with a validity period of 2 years.
The important thing to remember is that a visa is a legal permit to enter the United States. There are two types of visa: the working visa B1 and the tourist visa B2. They allow you to reside in the United States for a maximum of 6 months. In addition, an extension request can be made to stay longer.
While the ESTA allows for multiple entries into the United States. When you have an Esta, you can benefit from a two-year authorization to travel to the United States. Just as long as the visits do not exceed 90 days.
Requirements for obtaining a tourist visa to the United States
If you cannot apply for an ESTA authorization or if your ESTA is refused, you must apply for a USA tourist visa (type B1 or B2). You will have an interview with the nearest embassy or consulate of the applicant’s country of residence; however, children under 13 years of age and persons over 80 years of age are not required to attend the interview.
All these criteria of differences make it possible to realize that the B2 tourist visa and the ESTA, do not give access to the same rights on the American territory. If you wish to travel to the United States on an occasional basis, the ESTA is the most suitable. It allows you to visit the United States freely for a short period of time.