February 25, 2024

Business trip in the USA – with ESTA or visa

Image: c. Bannock

Business travelers who travel to the USA for business only for a short period often apply for a visa unnecessarily. This takes time because applying for a visa is more complex and time-consuming than applying for one Esta. It is therefore advisable to check whether a visa is required before submitting your application.

ESTA is often sufficient

Business travelers with a German passport usually do not need a visa. Germany is part of the US Visa Waiver Program. Travelers who are not working in the USA can stay in the USA for 90 days under ESTA. You can participate in business meetings, networking, customer visits and other types of meetings and conferences. However, many business travelers don’t realize this; You can work in the USA under ESTAProvided that you do not enter into a business relationship with a company in the United States of America.

For example, if your employer has an assignment in the USA, you can use an ESTA to work for a US client for up to 90 days as long as you do not work here. In this case, there is no problem if the US company pays the fees to the German employer. In practice, this is often the case, for example when a product is combined with a service. The German company sells a device or other product and a German employee travels with them to the USA to make sure everything arrives safely. You can easily travel with ESTA and install or test the product on site.

In some cases a visa is still necessary

As previously stated, an ESTA is not sufficient to enter employment with a company in the USA; A work visa is required for this purpose. There are some other exceptions where a ESTA application not enough. For example, with an ESTA, you are not allowed to study in the United States, invest in a company in the United States, or establish a company in the United States. You must also apply for a visa for journalistic activities. There are also some general requirements for entering the country under ESTA, after all, ESTA is a security measure. If any of the security questions on the ESTA form require a “no” answer, for example because you have recently visited Iran or Iraq, you will not be able to get an ESTA. You must always apply for a visa.

Video about the ESTA application