ESTA AND ME

This entry is brought to you from a plastic outdoor chair beneath a corrugated plastic verandah roof in a suburban Central Coast backyard. There are palm trees, hibiscus, a pool and a Black Prince cicada slowly crawling into Matt’s black slippers. It’s warm. There’s a sea breeze. Matt is sitting on a deckchair and is reading some book called Hardboiled America. My feet share a footstool with a coke and ice. I will probably knock it over sometime in the next hour. This coastal interlude with its morning beach swim concludes our third week left in Australia.

The ESTA Process (Image Source: https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov)

Two weeks til take-off. I’ve had my Hepatitis A and Typhoid injections. My passport and Egyptian visa application are in the hands of the Egyptain consulate in Sydney (I hope) and I’ve even muddled my way through the somewhat unfriendly ESTA website. I say unfriendly as the ESTA website stopped halfway through processing my credit card details and told me that there was a technical problem and I should close my browser and open another one. This I did and went into the status update page. I was told that my payment status was unconfirmed and I should try again later. It was only after going to the help page that I discovered that the website was not compatible with Chrome, Safari or Firefox. I humbly think this pertinent detail belongs on the front page before people submit credit card details and other sensitive information. As directed I tried the next day and fortunately my transaction was processed. I was left slightly confused as to whether there was or was not a browser compatibility issue and why it told me there was a technical difficulty. But this is the American government and I must conclude that this process was worth every cent of my $14 ESTA fee. I am now registered to travel to the U.S.A. This privilege, as the website reminds me, is not the same as approval to enter the U.S.A Still, having signed away my rights through ESTA to appeal to U.S customs and immigration if my entry into the country is rejected, I am one step closer to searching for pyramids in New York.

Why ESTA makes me uncomfortable:

  • Waive any rights to review or appeal of the admissibility determination of the United States Customs and Border Protection officer, or contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.
  • Reaffirm, through the submission of biometric identifiers (including fingerprints and photographs) during processing upon arrival in the United States, your waiver of any rights to review or appeal of the admissibility determination of the United States Customs and Border Protection officer, or contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any removal action arising from an application for admission under the Visa Waiver Program.

Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) Online Help

  • Universal financial surveillance of VWP traveller
  • Vastly increased potential for identity theft, phishing, and other ESTA-based fraud

The Identity Project: ESTA Fees

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4 Responses to ESTA AND ME

  1. Katie says:

    The thing that makes me most uncomfortable about the ESTA process is the whole thing where it’s only compatible with Internet Explorer. What fresh hell is this?

    I must say, the scene you describe at the very beginning is very appealing indeed.

  2. Jenny says:

    I didn’t have to pay any money to ESTA to see America, why do you have to? Do you get special priviledges with your $14? And, can’t you get a visa to Egypt when you arrive?
    I am channeling your excitement.

    • Bathmat says:

      They introduced a new administration fee for ESTA in August. My privelage is supporting the American government. And yes, you can get a visa for Egypt upon arrival. Alas I was ignorant of this when I applied for said visa.

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