We will be visiting New York for a week, then going to canada for 29 days then on an Alaskan 7 day cruise. Then back to the us for 3 days, to Hawaii for 7 days. While the visa should cover all of this time, how soon before you travel can you apply for it.? Is it better to leave it to the last minute? Does the visa start from the day of application or the day you enter the states? Thanks for your help, in advance.
Good news - the ESTA visa is valid for two years from the date you are approved. You can apply for it whenever you want, but of course you want to make sure it's done before you get there. Generally it's a pretty quick online process, but the first time I applied the website had problems, so it ended up taking three days at the time.
It's then valid for 2 years OR until your passport expires, whichever comes first.