Check the status of your ESTA application

When you apply for an ESTA travel authorisation to visit the United States to stay there or for a transit through the country it is necessary to wait for a response to this application by email to learn whether your application has been approved. But it is however possible to check the status of your ESTA application by other means if you do not receive this email notification. To assist you we provide all the information you could need to verify the status of your ESTA travel authorisation application in this article.

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In which cases should you undertake a status verification of your ESTA application?

Logically you should not need to check the status of your ESTA application except under unusual circumstances. In fact, when you complete your application online, carefully following the steps as detailed on an approved reputable website such as our partner’s, then you should receive a response by email to your email address in just a few hours indicating if your ESTA application has been approved or not. The notification should state either ‘authorisation approved’ or ‘authorisation refused’, these are the only two status notifications sent by email.

In all cases, this email will be sent within 72 hours maximum following the submission and payment of your application form online. It is therefore pointless to worry as if this time has not passed then this probably means your application is still under examination and you will receive a response shortly.

However, if these 72 hours have passed and you have still not received a notification regarding your ESTA application then you may wish to check your application status online.

But this is not the only case where such a verification is useful. Imagine for a moment that you made a mistake entering your email address when you completed your ESTA application form. In this case it will be impossible for you to know if your application has been approved and so you will need to manually check your application.

Finally, maybe you have already received your ESTA travel authorisation and you wish to use it again for a future trip but cannot remember when it expires. By confirming the status of your application online you will learn whether it has expired or not.

Before undertaking any status verification of your ESTA it is recommended that you initially search for your ESTA notification in your spam or junk email inbox.  

 

What procedure should you follow for the status verification of your ESTA?  

If your situation is one of those we mentioned above and you need to check your ESTA application here is the procedure you need to follow:

  • Firstly visit a website that enables you to verify the status of ESTA applications.
  • You will then need to complete the search form for your file. To do so you will need to enter some information relating to your application such as the reference number (if you remembered to keep a copy of this when you initially applied) as well as your valid passport number to which it is linked, and your date of birth. If you did not note your application reference number and cannot find it then it may still be possible to trace your application by entering some supplementary information such as your full name and nationality.
  • You should then be able to access your file where the status of your ESTA application will be noted.

If you still cannot access your ESTA application status online using this information this probably means that your application has not been processed. This could be due to a problem when submitting your form online such as the following:

  • You have not successfully submitted your application or entirely completed the procedure.
  • You encountered a problem during the payment of the costs and fees using a credit or debit card or online gateway. In this case check that the amount payable for the costs and fees has been deducted from your account or not.

Whatever the reason for this non-submission of your application you will have to reapply again, following the entire procedure from the beginning and checking carefully that you complete every step of this process until the successful submission and payment online.

 

What are the different statuses of an ESTA application and what do they mean?

As we explained earlier, when you receive the ESTA application response email there are only two possible replies, ‘authorisation granted’ or ‘authorisation refused’. However, when you check the status of your ESTA application online then you may see another response, ‘authorisation pending’. But what do these different statuses actually mean?

If you obtain the ‘authorisation approved’ status this basically means that you have obtained the authorisation to travel to the United States under the prerequisite conditions of the electronic ESTA programme including a visit of less than 90 days that is not related to work or study in the USA. You can also use this authorisation for visits with stopovers or transits through an American airport. Upon learning that you have been granted your ESTA you have nothing further to do as your ESTA will be automatically and digitally linked to the associated passport number for a period of two years. However, before using your ESTA for further visits we highly recommend that you check that all personal details and important information are still valid and have not changed. In the case to the contrary you will need to complete a new application online. As maybe you already know it is not necessary for you to print your electronic ESTA authorisation when you have obtained it. However it is prudent to keep a paper copy of your travel authorisation in case you need to modify certain information (when possible) or to check its expiry date.  

When you see the statement ‘authorisation pending’ upon checking the status of your ESTA application this means that the American authorities responsible for these authorisations are still examining your file and a decision has not yet been made. This status is generally visible immediately after the successful submission of your application online and changes to either ‘authorisation approved’ or ‘authorisation refused’ within a maximum of 72 hours. While this status is displayed the electronic ESTA programme is certainly completing automatic verification of information submitted on the form such as the validity of your passport number or any previous visa or ESTA applications. Certain types of verification need to be completed manually by official American government agents particularly in the case of queries relating to certain information transmitted. Although this may occur, it is very rare that this ‘pending’ status is displayed for longer than 72 hours. If however it does occur then you can do nothing except wait to receive the definitive response which should arrive shortly by email.

To conclude, the last status that you may observe on your official notification email or when checking the status online is that of application refused. As indicated by the title, this status simply means that you have not been granted a travel authorisation for the United States. Unfortunately the system does not provide you with any further details or reasons for this refusal and you will therefore need to determine the reasons yourself so you can decide how to proceed further and if the opportunity exists for you to complete another procedure to be able to visit the USA. Depending on the reason for this refusal you do have certain possibilities open to you:

  • If the refusal relates to an ESTA application for a minor then maybe you forgot to tick the box ‘application completed by a third party’ at the end of the form. In this case you need to repeat the entire procedure.
  • If you made a mistake when completing the form then you can reapply after a minimum wait of 10 days.
  • If the refusal is due to the length or reason of your visit that is not compatible with the conditions then it may be possible to apply for a visa.
  • If your situation or one of your answers to the questions asked is contrary to the current American legislation for tourism in the USA that it is unlikely that you will obtain a visa.

It is important that you know that our online partner refunds the entire costs of your ESTA application in a case of refusal.

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