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Traveling To America

For years, visitors from certain foreign countries have been able to travel to America without first getting a formal Visa sticker placed in their passport. Implemented in 1998, the “Visa Waiver Program” (VWP) has allowed for visitors of several countries to come to America for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without getting a Visa put in their passport. During 2007, more than 15 million visitors from VWP countries arrived in the United States.

As of January 12, 2009 America’s new ESTA program requires Visa Waiver Program visitors coming to the U.S. for tourist or business purposes via a plane or ship to “register” online before entering the United States to see if they pose a law enforcement or security risk to the U.S. ESTA is not required for land crossings. Officials are asking that the ESTA registration be done at least 72 hours prior to leaving, but theoretically it is possible to register at the last minute. An ESTA Travel Authorization is free, valid for 2 years, and valid for multiple entries.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for ESTA Travel Authorization:

What Countries Are in the Visa Waiver Program?

Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

Where Do I Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization?

A website, operated by the American government, is where you register for ESTA: esta.cbp.dhs.gov. The ESTA information you submit via the computer is compared with certain American law enforcement databases and then either approved or denied. Foreign travelers will not be able to submit ESTA applications at American airports after arriving or at a U.S. Embassy in their country.

What if I Don’t Have Plans to Travel to the U.S. Yet?

VWP travelers are not required to have specific plans to travel to the United States before they apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization. As soon as VWP travelers begin to plan a trip to visit the U.S., they are encouraged to apply for travel authorization through the ESTA website. Applicants are not required to update their destination addresses or itineraries if they change after their ESTA Travel Authorization has been granted.

Does the ESTA Travel Authorization Guarantee Entry to the U.S.?

An ESTA Travel Authorization only authorizes a traveler to board an airline or ship for travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. After they arrive, travelers who obtained an ESTA Travel Authorization may still be denied entry (also called “admission”) at a U.S. port of entry, such as an American airport. An approved ESTA is not a guarantee of admissibility at an American airport. In all cases, the American airport officers make the final determination whether a foreign traveler can enter the U.S. or not. You still have to establish to the satisfaction of the inspecting officer that you are entitled to be admitted to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.

Can I Change My Travel Itinerary?

It is possible to change an itinerary on an existing ESTA Travel Authorization; ESTA is designed so that you can update parts of it at any time. Travelers who did not get an ESTA approval may be denied boarding by the airlines, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission to the U.S. at the American airport.

What If I Already Have a Valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa?

While the ESTA Travel Authorization is completed online with no interview, there are Visas that require a U.S. Embassy interview. The Visa process has separate procedures, which generally require an appointment, travel to a U.S. Embassy, an interview with a Consular Officer, processing time, and the payment of an application fee. If a foreign national already went to the U.S. Embassy and has a valid B1/B2 Visitor Visa pasted in their passport it is not necessary to get an ESTA Travel Authorization because the traveler will be entering with a B1/B2 Visitor Visa and not through the Visa Waiver Program. Keep in mind that an approved ESTA Travel Authorization is not a Visa.

Can I Re-Apply for an ESTA Travel Authorization if Denied?

Yes, but you must wait at least 10 days to reapply and your circumstances must have changed. Unless there is a change in a substantive fact, re-application will not change the result. Keep in mind that applying for an ESTA Travel Authorization with false information can cause a foreign national to be permanently barred from ever entering America. The ESTA system is designed to try to prevent individuals from changing and manipulating an ESTA entry until they receive an approval.

What If I am Denied an ESTA Travel Authorization and Have No Changed Circumstances?

There are three types of responses to an ESTA application; approved, pending or travel not authorized (denied). Applicants who receive a “pending” response are advised to check the website 72 hours later. Applicants who are denied will be required to go to a U.S. Embassy to apply for a formal nonimmigrant visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, which may take months.

Can a Traveler Find Out the Reason Why an ESTA Application was Denied?

The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has stated that travelers may contact the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (DHS TRIP at dhs.gov) but there are no guarantees that information about a denial will be divulged. U.S. Embassies and Consulates are not required to provide details about an ESTA denial nor resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

What If I Have a Criminal Record?

Only those qualified to travel under the VWP are eligible to pre-register through ESTA. Persons who have been arrested and/or convicted are generally not eligible for VWP and probably require a formal Visa, such as a B1/B2 Visa, to travel to America. If a foreign national has received tickets for speeding (which don’t usually result in an arrest or conviction) they are probably still eligible for the VWP and ESTA. If a foreign traveler has been denied entry into or deported from the U.S., they require a formal Visa.

Do Any Other Countries Have a Similar Program?

Australia has a program called the Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) that mandates travelers to submit an ETA application electronically through a website requesting permission to travel to Australia. Airlines may refuse to accept passengers who do not have either an approved ETA or Visa to enter Australia.

How Long Will the ESTA Application Data be Stored? Who Can Access It?

The ESTA Travel Authorization is valid for two years or until the traveler’s passport expires, whichever comes first. The American government will maintain the information for at least 15 years to allow retrieval of the information for law enforcement, national security, or investigatory purposes. Information submitted through ESTA can also be shared with any U.S. government organization.

What Information Does the Airlines Get?

Airlines will receive confirmation of a passenger’s ESTA status visa the “Advance Passenger Information System” (APIS) which shows whether the ESTA authorization has been granted for a Visa Waiver Program traveler. It is recommended that the traveler print out the ESTA application approval in order to maintain a record of their ESTA application number and to have confirmation of their ESTA status.

What About Children?

Accompanied and unaccompanied children, regardless of age, are required to obtain an independent ESTA Travel Authorization.

What if a Mistake was Made on the ESTA Application?

The ESTA website will ask applicants to review their application before submitting it. Also, there is an update function for certain information such as email address, telephone number, or flight information. If an applicant makes a mistake that cannot be “updated,” he will need to submit a new ESTA application.

What if I Only Have a Connecting Flight Through the U.S.?

Visa Waiver Program visitors who have a connecting flight in the U.S. are required to either have ESTA Travel Authorization or a Visa from a U.S. Embassy in their passport to travel through the U.S. even for a one hour stop. If a traveler is only planning to stop in the U.S. en route to another country, the traveler should enter the words “In Transit” and his final destination in the address lines under the heading “Address While In The United States” on the ESTA application.

What Are the Questions on the ESTA Travel Authorization Application?

The traveler must provide (in English) biographical data including name, birth date, country of citizenship, country of residence, email address, sex, telephone number, passport information, destination address in the U.S., travel information (round trip airline ticket, flight number and city where you are boarding) as well as questions regarding communicable diseases (chancroid, gonorrhea, granuloma inquinale, HIV, leprosy, lymphogranuloma venereum, syphilis [active], tuberculosis [active], and others), physical or mental disorders, drug addiction problems, arrests, convictions, past history of visa cancellation or denial, and prior deportations from the U.S. The traveler will also be asked whether they are seeking work in the U.S., have ever been deported or tried to get a visa by fraud or misrepresentation. The traveler will be asked if they have ever detained a child of a U.S. Citizen granted custody of the child, and whether they have ever asserted immunity from prosecution.

Do I Select “Business” or “Pleasure (Tourist) at the Airport Port of Entry?

After the ESTA Travel Authorization is granted, the foreign traveler will be interviewed by government officers at the first American airport they land. The officer will ask what the foreign traveler will be doing in America and the questioning can take up to four hours in a detained setting called “secondary inspection.” The officer may ask the traveler “what else are you doing in America?” repeatedly to try to get “the real” answer. If the traveler is only going to be a tourist, they are not allowed to do any business, including meeting with any attorneys, applying for a bank account, meeting with real estate agents, or other business consulting activities. Even though the traveler is going to conduct just one business meeting while in America, they are required to report it and enter as a business visitor. The business visitor is allowed to participate in tourist activities, but the tourist visitor is not allowed to participate in any business activities. Therefore, if any business might be conducted while in America, it is best to tell the government officers about it at the airport to avoid being accused of lying, put immediately on a plane back to your home country, and barred from America for life.

What Else Do Can the Airport Officers Make Me Prove After I Land?

The airport officers will ask the traveler proof of a foreign residence (address on foreign driver’s license), whether their intention is to depart at the end of the visit (round trip airline ticket), whether the traveler has a job (letter, paystub, business card) and family in their home country, (marriage certificate, childrens’ birth certificates), and whether the traveler has the money to travel around America (bank statement or credit cards with bank letter showing credit limit). The airport officers are also required to ask where the traveler will stay in America (hotel reservations or friends/relatives’ homes) and have been known to pick up the phone to verify all of the aforementioned information.

Can I Be Searched in the American Airport? Am I Entitled to Legal Representation?

While being interviewed at the American airport, all luggage (even locked bags) can be searched, as well as the traveler’s body and his/her cell phone (including text messages and phone numbers) and laptop (including hard drive). The officers may “google” a traveler’s name and check out their myspace, Facebook or hyves pages. The traveler is not allowed to be represented by an attorney or even call their attorney while in “secondary inspection.” Bathroom visits, water and food may be limited, so it is best to prepare for such an occasion while still on the plane before landing.

Do I Still Have to Go Through the “US-VISIT” Program at the American Airport?

Foreign travelers arriving at American airports and seaports must still be photographed and fingerprinted every time they enter the U.S.

Who Should I Ask For Help to Fill Out the ESTA Application?

The information a traveler provides on the ESTA application can remain in their file with U.S. authorities for a minimum of 15 years – probably longer. If a foreign traveler has some questions about how to answer the questions so as not to be permanently barred from America, it would be prudent to them to pay for a legal consultation with an American Immigration Attorney who is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Beware of unauthorized private websites that offer ESTA application assistance for $49.99 – they are usually not authorized to practice immigration law and are asking travelers to pay for a copy of the application questions, which are free on the dhs.gov website.

If I Am Denied the ESTA Travel Authorization Will it Effect My Ability to Obtain a Visa at the U.S. Embassy?

When the ESTA Travel Authorization is denied, the foreign traveler must make an appointment at a U.S. Embassy in their country to apply for a formal Visa. The U.S. Embassy is operated by the U.S. Department of State and there are no expedited procedures for those who have been denied ESTA Travel Authorization. Because the ESTA program is so new, it is impossible to predict how badly a denial of the ESTA Travel Authorization will impact a traveler’s application for a Visa at a U.S. Embassy or impact their future travel to America in general. American Immigration Attorneys are in close contact with their foreign clients and will share the denial information with each other starting in January 2009. Currently there are no government policies regulating this area of the law, or opportunities to appeal a denial.

When Is the a “New” ESTA Travel Authorization Required?

A new ESTA Travel Authorization is required during the two years if (1) the traveler is issued a new passport (2) the traveler changes his name (3) the traveler changes his or her gender (4) the traveler’s country of citizenship changes or (5) the circumstances underlying the traveler’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response have changed (such as a new arrest).

Can an American Immigration Attorney, Travel Agent or Employer Fill Out the ESTA Application?

A third party, such as a relative, travel agent or American Immigration Attorney, is permitted to submit an ESTA application on behalf of a VWP traveler. Be aware that the traveler is still responsible under the law for the answers submitted on his or her behalf by a third party.

Over 68,000 travelers have already voluntarily registered by using the ESTA online system in the last few months. Applicants are reminded to obtain a new “e-passport” which has an integrated computer chip capable of storing biographic information from the data page, as well as other biometric information, when registering with ESTA.

What Types Of Florida Health Insurance Are Best?

Packaged Long Term Care Policies

A majority of Long Term Care Insurance policies are sold as comprehensive and stand alone health plans. These plans have options of annual, semi-annual, quarterly or even monthly premiums. There are also other types of payments like an abbreviated payment plan. The comprehensive Long Term Care Insurance plan is similar to the group health plan or individual health plan. This type of plan covers most of the health care alternatives. There are four primary methods to package Long Term Care Insurance.

1. The Long Term Care Insurance may be packaged with life insurance with either or feature which is very beneficial and flexible. In case of policy holder dies, their beneficiary will get the death benefit. While in case of policy holder wants Long term care, prior to his/her death than instead of life insurance predetermined benefits are paid. You can buy this type of policy by either paying the one time premium of $ 50,000 or more or with quarterly, yearly premiums.

2. The Long Term Care Insurance is packaged as rider to life insurance policy’s cash value. This type of policy covers two different types and the premiums are also divided to pay for both.

3. The Long Term Care Insurance may be packaged with disability income policy. It can be used before the age of 65years. This type of packaged policy is mainly for disability income but there are possibilities of long term coverage if premiums are paid after the age of 65.

4. The Long Term Care Insurance may be packaged with deferred annuity that has single premium option. This type of packaged policy is for those people who has around $ 50.000 or more money that is free and don’t mind if it is tied up.
There is pending legislation which if passed will make Long Term Care Insurance premiums exempted form tax.

What is Long term care?

The Long term care may be defined as when some one can not perform their emotional or physical needs without the help of other for extended time period than it is termed as Long term care. The external help required for activities like pain management, bathing, comfort and assurance, walking, toilet usage, meals providing, feeding, money management, phone answering, visiting doctor, shopping, taking medication, transport providing, laundry, grooming, paying bill, letter writings, small home repairs, yard maintaining, snow removing etc. are covered under Long term care. Able people take this type of activities for granted.

There are many reasons that are responsible for Long term care like disability, terminal condition, injury, illness, old age etc. It is found out that around 60 percentage of population require extended help during their life span. For some, the Long term care lasts for few days or weeks or months. But there are some persons for whom the Long term care goes for years. Depending upon the person’s condition they require different periods of care. The care may be divided in to two broad categories.

Ongoing Long term care: This type of care requirement is for extended period, may be for months or years. Ongoing Long term care is required when

1. Disabilities of permanent nature

2. medical conditions which are chronic

3. Daily routine require help

4. chronic pain

Temporary Long term care: This type of care requirement is for short period, may be only weeks or months. Temporary Long term care is required when

1. recovering from illness

2. Recovering from surgery

3. Recovering from injury

4. Terminal medical condition

5. Hospital stay for rehabilitation

The Long term care services may be given in an adult day servicing home, in the house of the patient, even in the house of patient’s friends or any of the family member’s house, in a board and care house or in a nursing home or many other such places.

Understanding Long Term Care Insurance benefits

Out of all insurance products the Long term care insurance is the most complicated health benefit product. The Long term care insurance provides around 16 options of different benefits. Out of this 16 options each option also offer 2 to 5 selections. The story does not end here, daily benefits gives other selections which may be rounded up to 30 in number. So theoretically there are hundreds or thousands of different policies possible in the same plan. With the results there is thousands of premiums combination. For lay man to grasp all this different combination of policy is very difficult.

So to make this thing simple, best way is to limit the choices. For example many employer will pre select only 2 to 4 different combination of benefit, and offer their employees only this with extra riders like inflation protection, shortened pay or non forfeiture. This procedure will leave thousands of options in to only 10 to 20. Many see advantages of this procedure but there are also some disadvantages.

Selecting from very limited options prevents many employees from selecting other batter and richer benefit plans. Some time it is also observed that limited number of benefits which is often proved to be inadequate. The obvious danger of offering limited benefit policy is employees may be under the false impression that they are covered for particular thing when actually they are not covered. For example to increase the employees’ participation rate they are offered incomplete protections which reduce the rate of premiums and superficially look very attractive. Some time initial payment may be lower but it increases as time passes.

It is always better to select a Long term care insurance plan that offers the option of additional benefits. These additional options are mostly medically under written, but the coverage is very broad. Contrary to belief that underwriting has very strict rules and it is very difficult to be eligible, around 95 % of employees are qualifies for medically underwritten Long term care insurance plan.

Health Savings Accounts (HSA)

The Health Savings Accounts (HSA) is some what new in to the market of health insurance. Health Savings Accounts is based on entirely new concept and provide people with great option for health care insurance.

You should consider buying Health Savings Accounts insurance when you are seriously thinking health insurance as a form of investment. There are some restriction and regulations regarding Health Savings Accounts insurance plan. Different person find different benefits that is useful for them, for example if you are self employed than Health Savings Accounts insurance plan offer you the benefit like exemption from tax, up to the limit of $ 2,700 for individual plan and up to $ 5,450 for family plan.

For childless couple who does not own any health insurance, Health Savings Accounts insurance is good health plan, since purchasing Health Savings Accounts insurance and paying premiums regularly the amount of premiums will be accumulated in to tax free money. This money will be like lottery when after substantial time policy holder becomes old and their children becomes young. Large sum of money they will receive when they are old is really blessings.

Apart from many benefits, Health Savings Accounts insurance is not as famous as required. There are certain disadvantages which make Health Savings Accounts insurance good for certain types of people. Many people will benefit from Health Savings Accounts insurance but they don’t know about it. Slowly the situation is improving and people stated inquiring about Health Savings Accounts insurance. People become more aware about the savings on their expanses which is medical related. There are many people who opt for high deductible health plan combine with Health Savings Accounts. Now it is generally known that Health Savings Accounts insurance allow people to keep aside before-tax money, which can be utilize for future medical expenditure. This means that if people has Health Savings Accounts insurance and remains healthy than they may accumulate hundreds or thousands of dollar in their Health Savings Accounts at the time of retirement.

Handy Home Improvement Tips to Help You Create a More Energy Efficient Home

Whenever you take on a home renovation task, you can go beyond making visual enhancements. Home renovation projects also provide you with the ability to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Remodeling for a more energy efficient home won’t just be great for the environment – it will also save you money in the long run. No matter what kind of home improvement project you’re considering, it’s a good idea to find out if there are ways you can enhance your home’s energy efficiency. A good renovation project offers you the opportunity to add more beauty and value to your home, but it will be even more successful if you’re able to use that project to lower your energy bills and reduce your carbon footprint.

Tips for the Bathroom

The bathroom is one of the most popular areas to start home improvement projects. When you’re ready to start making some changes in your bathroom, it’s the smaller decisions that can help you to increase the energy efficiency of your bathroom. If you’ll be replacing faucets, sinks and showerheads as a part of your home improvement project, you can save on water by going with low-flow options that still provide you with plenty of water pressure. Another option is to invest in a dual flush or low flow toilet that will help improve energy efficiency in the bathroom.

Tips for the Kitchen

Kitchens are often the heart of the home and they are also a popular place for home renovation projects. It is possible to work on home improvement tasks that improve the function and aesthetic beauty of your kitchen while also working to make your home more energy efficient. Many kitchen home improvement tasks focus on replacing surface features, including floors, counters and cabinets. You can go with sustainable materials to help out the environment. Choosing the right appliances for the kitchen is the real way to save energy while taking on a kitchen home improvement project. Look for ENERGY STAR products that use less water and power, helping to cut down on your energy bills. These energy efficient appliances also come in great sizes and trendy styles so they’ll go along with your d├ęcor of choice in the kitchen.

Tips for Other Living Areas

While it may be more difficult to make living rooms, offices and bedrooms more energy efficient, there are still ways that you can work on energy efficiency when you take on these home improvement tasks. When you’re ready to remodel these areas, work to go with sustainable materials, such as hardwood flooring that is harvested in a sustainable way. Another option is to choose curtains that will help cut back on heat transfer, which will help keep energy bills down. Adding in some extra insulation while involved in home improvement tasks or adding in new ceiling fans can help reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home as well. Also, keeping in mind that materials pulled from the home can be recycled when you do a home renovation in living areas.

As you can see, you can find many ways to take on a home improvement project to improve your home’s aesthetic beauty, function, value and energy efficiency. As you plan out your next home improvement task, make sure you keep energy efficiency in mind. You’ll be taking great measures to help improve the environment while also finding ways to save money over time with a more energy efficient home.