In an effort to show how caring the USA is wanting to educate us how great it is to visit the country, for online Visa Waivers, there is a planned charge of $10 to use to the tool.
The US Consulate calls this “A storm in a teacup”. I alas – don’t. Where as a fare to the USA is made up of many things (including security charges, inspection charges, etc), this represents yet another cost when going to the states for filling out what I’m sorry to say is a form based system that looks like it’s been knocked out of a 9th Grader/Year 9 student for homework.
And considering this was meant to do away with the I-94/I-94W forms, I’m not exactly impressed to be honest.
Whilst I accept some countries require visas, or e-visas, I fail to see how the cost they’re proposing is nothing but going into the Department of Homeland Security’s back pocket to fund other projects. In other words, Education my backside. A nice easy tax to collect is more like it.
Whilst ESTA isn’t a visa per say, this system has been implement by Australia for travel.. except it’s called an E-Visa. Notice the difference in terms of form filling? Correct – None at all.
My advice is simple: If you’re even thinking about travelling to the USA in the next two years – get your ESTA’s in as soon as possible. That or demonstrate with the Pound/Euro/other currency and simply don’t visit the USA.
And my soapbox comment: Go ahead America – be my guest and implement this. The EU and the UK will reciprocate in kind.
Source: BBC News: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8241255.stm
Gadling – http://www.gadling.com/2009/09/05/united-states-considering-10-tourist-fee-to-pay-for-promoting/