How Long Does It Take for ESTA Approval? -

How Long Does It Take for ESTA Approval?

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The maximum processing time of an ESTA application is 72 hours but applications are often processed much quicker than this. Once you have completed the application and paid the ESTA application fee, you will soon receive a response, this can sometimes take just minutes but can take a few days at most.
When somebody applies for an ESTA it is recommended that they give at least 72 hours prior to their intended travel time when applying. However, the processing time for an ESTA can vary considerably, with some taking just a few minutes to process, whilst others can take a few days.
If the applicant answers yes to any of the questions asked in the eligibility section of the ESTA application form, there is a good chance that their application is going to get declined. When this happens, they may still be able to apply for a US visa if they want to go ahead with plans to visit the US.

What factors affect ESTA processing?

Research shows that 92% of US ESTA application submissions were processed within 4 hours of submitting the application. The remainder of the applications took between 1 and 72 hours to get approval. It is not always obvious why one application takes longer than another, it can be down to how busy the Department of Homeland Security is, or that additional checks are required before they are able to make the approval. Occasionally, there may even be technical problems that can cause delays to the length of time it takes to receive ESTA approval.
In addition to these factors, there can be issues related to payment processing. Applicants for ESTA shouldthe status of their US ESTA application to ensure that their payment method hassuccessfully gone through, or this could mean that the application has not been submitted which could disrupt travel plans. If you have not received a confirmation email regarding your application within 24 hours, you should certainly check your status on the ESTA status checker page.

When to apply for ESTA to leave time for approval?

Whilst the general guidance states that applicants should apply for their ESTA at least 72 hours before they are due to travel, this does not leave time to re-submit the ESTA if there has been a mistake, or to apply for a visa if this is necessary. As an ESTA is valid for two years (or until the passport it is linked to expires), this means that someone wishing to travel to the US could apply for an ESTA a few months before their intended trip and their ESTA will still be valid and there won’t be a tight deadline to get it processed and approved.
Many travel agents recommend applying for an ESTA when the flights are booked, which could be months or weeks prior to the travel date. This means that if the ESTA gets declined, there is a possibility to re-submit the ESTA application if there has been a simple error made.

How long does the application take?

Completing the online ESTA application form can take less than 20 minutes to do. The form is very short, requesting the applicant to provide their passport details, personal details and to answer a set of eligibility questions.

Why an ESTA could be declined or could not be submitted?

The ESTA is available for citizens from countries that are members of the Visa Waiver Program. So, citizens that are not from one of the countries would be unable to apply and when they indicate their nationality on the digital form, it will flag up that they are not eligible for an ESTA.
The ESTA is intended for people that want to travel to the US for short periods only, such as for holidays, or for business meetings. Anyone that wants to visit the US for a period of longer than 90 days in total must apply for a relevant visa type. To apply for a US visa, a DS-160 form should be completed and then an interview will need to be arranged with the US Embassy to process the visa. Applying for a visa takes significantly longer than applying for an ESTA, which is why the ESTA is such a great solution for tourists and business people visiting the US.
If any of the questions in the eligibility section of the ESTA are answered yes, then the ESTA is likely to get refused. The questions are asked to determine whether the applicant could pose any risk to the US, either from a security perspective or a health or healthcare cost possibility.
If you receive a response to say that the ESTA has been declined, the next option is to apply for a visa to see whether it is possible to get travel authorization that way instead. Issues such as criminal convictions can sometimes mean that the US will not accept someone into the country, but the details of the criminal activity will be reviewed by the Department of Homeland 0Security.

How long does it take to renew an ESTA?

When your ESTA expires , you cannot extend the existing one, you will need to apply for a new one instead. This means that the process is exactly the same as when you applied for your original ESTA and will take the same length of time. It is important to be aware that if your passport expires, the ESTA attached to it will also be expired and therefore you would need to apply for another ESTA that will then be electronically linked to your new passport.

How does the ESTA get checked in the US?

When you arrive in the US, you will go through the Customs Border Protection and the CBP agents checking your passport will also see that you have a valid ESTA. All of the information is processed and stored electronically, so you do not get a paper copy of your ESTA or anything like that to show the CBP. If you want extra peace of mind, you could print off your ESTA approval confirmation email and take that with your travel documents but it is unlikely you will need it. Your ESTA must be valid when you are entering the US, or else you will not be able to enter the country. It is unlikely that you would be able to board a flight to the US without a valid ESTA.

Written by Abisola Fikayomi

Abisola is an accomplished writer interested in US Travel, immigration, passports and visas. She’s passionate about exploring new places and cultures and willing to share her experiences, expertize and findings with others. That is her primary drive for specialising in this industry.

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