When you come to visit the USA, you need to verify that you are not going to cause problems and that you are allowed to be int he country, Due to the rise in terror attacks, fake passports, and information available to the authorities, the USA instituted the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA in 2009 to keep track of individuals coming into the country from visa free countries and to give preemptive authorization for air travel to people from those countries. Anyone who has filled out this information will not have to fill out the 1-94W card. ESTA Stati Uniti – read more.
The system asks for basic information about where you live, what you do for a living, who you are, your health, and your criminal status. All of this is then compared with the information in their database to ensure that you are truly allowed to be in the country. This is one of the ways that you are protected from someone stealing your passport and committing a crime internationally, as they would be unlikely to know this information and you would be able to prove that you were not the person to blame for the crime that occurred.
The application may then ask you to clarify answers or provide documentation that you are safe to travel. This is extremely rare, but if necessary information will be given on how to forward this information to the correct authorities. When all of this is complete, you will receive an authorization to fly, and you will not have to worry about the process again for another 2 years. The information that you give will already be given to the customs officials where you are arriving, which will mean that clearing customs will go faster as well.
Most people should fill out the form at least 3 days before they are going to depart, but you can fill it out at any time. If you have any reason to believe that you might be on a watch list, share a name with someone on a watch list, or have anything in your life that would cause a problem you should start the process much earlier. This will give you time to correct any problems and to ensure that your ESTA is approved before you head to the airport and find that you are unable to travel that day.