A lot of travel plans have been placed on hold in 2020, with cancelled flights and quarantine requirements in many different countries around the world. Any Spanish citizens who were planning on travelling to the US will probably have had to reschedule their travel plans, with the US banning travel from European travellers.
However, since these restrictions were put in place in March, several measures have been introduced to enable more international travel, such as taking a Covid-19 test prior to flying and being able to provide evidence of a negative result.
Guidance for travellers visiting the US
The US Government’s website recommends that travellers check their country’s US embassy website to look at the latest travel news and requirements. With Covid-19 infection rates still high across many European countries, including Spain, as well as numerous states in the US having high infection rates, travel guidance is constantly being reviewed and updated to ensure the safety of passengers and to try to avoid spreading the infection.
There are currently very few flights scheduled between Spain and the US given the travel restrictions that are currently applicable, so only Spanish citizens who meet the specific requirements for travelling to the US would be able to enter the country. To do this, they would need to contact the US embassy to get the relevant type of visa arranged for their purpose of travel.
ESTA and visa application
Usually, without travel restrictions to contend with, visiting the US from Spain can be very straight forward. When travelling to US from Spain for business, tourism, medical or transit purposes, Spanish citizens are able to apply for an ESTA. This stands for Electronic System for Travel Authorisation and it forms part of the visa waiver program that Spain is included in.
The visa waiver program makes it easier for travellers from the agreed countries to enter the US, using a simple ESTA application instead of going through the longer process of applying for a US visa. The ESTA Form takes around 20 minutes to complete and the application is usually reviewed and approved very quickly, sometimes within a few hours. The application process is all completed online, automatically checking against the relevant databases to check through security information to determine whether to approve the ESTA application.
When a Spanish citizen has an ESTA approved, they can travel to the US multiple times using the same ESTA, as long as the ESTA is still valid (usually valid for two years). The other requirement is that their passport that the ESTA is linked to is also still valid.
If you are thinking about planning a trip to the US in the near future, it is important to keep up to date with the latest travel news, both from the Spanish Government regarding exiting the country and also the US Government regarding entering the country. When travel restrictions are lifted, Spanish citizens can apply for the ESTA, or if they are visiting for work or studying, then they would apply for a work or study visa, whichever type of visa is relevant for the travel reasons.