How long is my data stored?

Your ESTA application data remains active for the amount of time that your approved ESTA is valid, or until your passport expires, whichever date comes first. The Department of Homeland Security then keeps this information for a further year, after which it is archived for 12 years. The information is archived for that period of time in order to allow national security or law enforcement to be able to access the data in case of any potential investigation. Archived information can only be accessed by a very limited number of officials.
If an ESTA is used instead of a I-94W form , your information can be retained for up to 75 years, and this is in accordance to the I-94W form. Since the Department of Homeland Security is transitioning to a paperless I-94W form, the data on your ESTA application is used instead.
The length of time that your data is stored is consistent with the Customs and Border Protection border search authority and with their mission that was decreed by Congress. Therefore, any information stored in the archives or while it is active can be used for investigation purposes during the stipulated time outlined above. However, any data that matches enforcement activities or investigations will remain accessible as long as law enforcement requires this information. This also includes ESTA applications that have been denied.

Related FAQs


What happens if your ESTA expires while you are in the USA?

If you are in the US and your ESTA expires then it is not an issue, as your ESTA must only be valid when you are entering the border of the US. This is when you will get checked by the border control authorities, so when you are returning to the UK or wherever else, there is no requirement to have a valid ESTA.

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What does it mean if one of the group requests is "pending"?

It could be the case that one of the applications in the group is still processing. You can check the individual applications by searching for the details individually. To do that you would need the passport numbers, dates of birth, full names and nationalities of all the people in your group.

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Will I be informed by email if my application is successful?

No, you will not receive an email notification and you will need to check the status of your application online.

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