ESTA application and traveling to Saipan

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ESTA application and traveling to Saipan

ESTA application and traveling to Saipan

Traveling to Saipan: What is the difference between Saipan and Guam?

Guam and Saipan share many similarities in location and mild climate. Both take about 3.5 hours from Japan, and the time difference is approximately one hour, making them popular as first-time overseas travel destinations. However, they differ in terms of island area, scale of commercial facilities, and overall island atmosphere. Guam is about 540 square kilometers in area, while Saipan is about 120 square kilometers which is about one-fourth the size. Guam also has many commercial facilities such as outlet malls and select shops mainly around Tumon Bay, while Saipan has fewer shops and a more local atmosphere from the viewpoint of nature conservation. Saipan has various beaches in addition to the famous “Micro Beach,” and depending on the season and time of year, you may be able to spend some time as if you were renting the private beach. Relaxing time that is typical of the southern islands and there are more opportunities to meet the local people than in Guam. It is perfect destination for those who want to enjoy the rich nature of the tropics while enjoying activities in the ocean.

Preparation of the necessary documents before visiting Saipan

You are required to present a valid passport and submit documentation under U.S. government regulations for the entry to Saipan.
The required documents vary depending on whether you have ESTA or a visa, therefore please check the following information.

1. Those who have not applied for ESTA
(Planning to stay up to 45 days under the Guam-Northern Mariana Islands Visa Waiver Program)
Form I-736, Customs Declaration
2. Those who have received(obtained) ESTA
(Planning to stay up to 90 days under the Visa Waiver Program)
Customs Declaration only
3. Those who have attained visas valid in Guam-Northern Mariana Islands Customs Declaration only

(All of the above documents will be distributed during your outward flight and required to be filled out then.)

Immigration documents

The following documents are required for the entry to Guam and Saipan. Immigration documents

Visa waiver program

Guam and Saipan have their own program that differs from the U.S. Visa Waiver Program, called the Guam-Northern Mariana Islands Visa Waiver Program “Guam-CNMI VWP”.

Visa waiver program

Period of stay in Saipan and ESTA application

Effective November 28th 2009, the U.S. Immigration Laws have been applied to the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the Visa Waiver Program for Guam-the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (Guam-CNMI VWP) has been implemented. In accordance with this, Japanese nationals may stay in the islands for up to 45 days with or without a visa or ESTA. Those who have obtained travel authorization through ESTA are allowed to stay up to 90 days, therefore if you wish to stay over 45 days, apply ESTA.

Is ESTA necessary to travel to Saipan?

Those who wish to stay in Saipan for up to 45 days for sightseeing or short-term business purposes do not need to apply for ESTA.
If you are traveling to Saipan to work or study, you are not eligible for ESTA even if your stay is less than 45 days, and must obtain a visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate General in Japan. So as traveling to Guam, up to 45 days of stay are allowed, and those who have obtained a “Travel Authorization” through an ESTA application will be allowed to stay for up to 90 days. They also are able to use the dedicated ESTA lanes at the airport, and it is recommended to obtain it when visiting the travel season as it will save time at immigration inspections.

What are the benefits of applying for ESTA when traveling to Saipan?

Those who have not applied for ESTA are required to submit an immigration form (I-736) and a customs declaration form. The immigration form will be distributed on board the aircraft and must be filled out in English and signed in one’s own handwriting.

  1. ESTA enables shorter waiting periods and less stress during immigration screening
  2. The immigration form (I-736) distributed on board the aircraft which you are supposed to fill out in English and submit will be waived
  3. Up to 90 days of stay is available for sightseeing or short-term business purposes (rather than the normal 45 days)

ESTA holders are able to use the “ESTA Lane” upon arrival at the airport. It is less crowded than the regular lane, and will greatly reduce the time consumed for immigration inspection. In addition, passengers with ESTA are exempted from the requirement to fill out an I-736 (immigration) form on the outbound flight. They are allowed to stay in Saipan for a maximum of 90 days for sightseeing or short-term business purposes, so those who wish to stay for a long period are encouraged to apply. Please note that the maximum period of stay is 45 days for non ESTA holders.

ESTA helps you have a pleasant stay in Saipan

Not only is ESTA intended to protect the safety and security of the continental U.S. and U.S. islands such as Saipan, but it also a certification system that enables identification of oneself and smooth travel. Those who have obtained a “Travel Authorization” through an ESTA application are allowed to stay in Saipan for up to 90 days, and waiting time at the immigration is shortened as well. We recommend that you obtain ESTA when traveling to Saipan or Guam during busy seasons such as the year-end, New Year holidays and major national holidays.

Is the entry to Saipan or Guam possible without an ESTA? : A special program under U.S. immigration law

“The Guam-CNMI VWP” covers 12 countries and regions including Japan, and citizens of these countries and regions are required to meet the following conditions to use the VWP.

  1. Must have a valid passport with an IC chip (Validity should be at least two weeks)
  2. Purpose of the entry is for sightseeing or shot-term business, not for employment or work
  3. Staying only in Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands, and the staying period must be less than 45 days
  4. Must have a round-trip ticket to your home country that proves the stay within 45 days from the date of entry
  5. All necessary items for the immigration form I-736 are filled out

In addition, it is required that the person must have no history of serious crime or immigration violation (e.g. over stay)

Those who are required to have visas for traveling to Saipan

If you wish to travel to the U.S., including Saipan, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands, and if any of the following apply,
you are not eligible to apply for the “Guam-CNMI VWP” and ESTA. In that case, please consider applying for a visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Japan after clarify your purpose of travel.

  • Those who wish to travel to the U.S. to work or study
  • Those who have been arrested for serious crimes in Japan, the U.S., or other countries
  • Those who have been denied entry to the U.S. or have a history of illegal immigration
  • Those who have a serious case or incident pending
  • Those who are still undergoing treatment for a serious illness

Special cases in which an extension of stay is granted

“The Guam-CNMI VWP” allows travelers who have an unforeseen accident or need to be hospitalized during their stay in Saipan or Guam to extend their stay. If a local doctor determines that medical treatment is necessary, a 15-day grace period will be granted in addition to the normal 45-day period of stay. During the grace period, the applicant must devote himself/herself to medical treatment or care of family members, and extension of stay for other reasons is not permitted. Please stay careful to avoid accidents and injuries while traveling, and plan your schedule accordingly.

Apply for ESTA here

UPDATE : 2024/05/02