Many questions about ESTA (the Electronic System for Travel Authorization) concern handling dual nationality when completing the ESTA visa application. Travellers are asked about all countries of citizenship and all passports held both current and past. Although this portion of the application seems to cause a lot of confusion, responding to it is actually straightforward when the situation is considered in a clear, step-by-step manner.
Let’s start with three general guidelines:
1. Be prepared with the information needed to complete the ESTA application, including relevant dual nationality information.
2. Leave no mandatory question unanswered.
3. Answer all questions carefully and honestly.
Failure to adhere to these basic rules will greatly increase the possibility of delay or even denial of your application.
Next, because any applicant must be a citizen of a VWP country, recognize that only one of three possible scenarios will be in play:
1. You are a national of two VWP countries.
Choose one of the countries, preferably the one where you live and work, and use that passport for all ESTA and U.S. travel purposes now and in the future. Provide information about your second citizenship and passport as requested, including information from your most recent expired second passport if applicable. If you do not have a passport from the second VWP country, identify the country but leave the passport number field empty.
2. You are a national of one VWP country and one non-VWP country.
Use the passport from the VWP country for all ESTA and U.S. travel purposes now and in the future. Provide information about your non-VWP country citizenship and second passport as requested, including information from your most recent expired passport if applicable. If you do not have a second passport, identify the country but leave the passport number field empty. Be sure to answer every question truthfully even if your second country happens to be on a current watch or ban list.
3. You are a U.S. national with dual citizenship from any other country.
Travelers with U.S. citizenship have no need to apply for ESTA. Possessing and using a U.S. passport for all international travel is a requirement for all U.S. citizens. Some naturalized citizens use their second passport to travel, but naturalized travelers must use their U.S. passport for all U.S arrivals and departures, and are expected to use that passport when departing a foreign country as well. Failure to do so invites delays at both departure and arrival Ports.
The ESTA program is intended to make travel to the United States simpler and easier for citizens of VWP countries while still maintaining strict security standards in terms of vetting the individuals who will be allowed to enter the U.S. However, any process involving government forms can be confusing. If you are unsure about a dual-nationality situation or have other questions, a service provider like Application ESTA can offer access to professionals with years of experience who answer hundreds of traveller questions every day. A little time spent before leaving home could easily save you some far more stressful time spent at Passport Control with a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.