Explanation of the different ESTA statuses

Are you eligible for the U.S. government’s Visa Waiver Program? If you are planning to travel to the United States in the near future, you must have your ESTA authorization in order to enter the United States. Once you have applied, there are three possible ESTA statuses. We will explain in detail the difference between each of the ESTA application statuses.

ESTA in brief

First of all, let’s have a look at what the Electronic System for Travel Authorization or ESTA is.

This is a travel authorization that replaces a traditional U.S. visa application, which nationals of Visa Waiver Program member countries must have if they intend to travel to the United States for tourism or business for up to 90 days. This authorization is also required in the case of transit through the USA to a final destination.

Applying for ESTA does not require an appointment at the U.S. Embassy, as everything is done through an online form. Once the ESTA form is completed, you must pay the application fee.

From that point on, all you have to do is wait for the US authorities to respond. To do this, regularly return to the government website to check your ESTA status, logging in with your file number or passport number. If you have used the services of a private website, such as our partner, you will be notified by email of any changes to your ESTA application status.

ESTA approved status

If you meet all the requirements of the Visa Waiver Program, your application will be quickly accepted. Your ESTA status will be approved in this case. This means that the ESTA is now electronically linked to your biometric or electronic passport. The U.S. Customs Service will be able to verify this by scanning your passport upon arrival at the border crossing. You don’t have to do anything else from this point on regarding your ESTA application status, except prepare your trip to the USA. An ESTA is valid for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. This authorization is also valid for multiple tourist trips during this period.

The pending status

Your ESTA status may be pending. This state usually does not last more than 72 hours. This happens when screening officers need more time to verify details they find suspicious. For this reason, you must be extremely careful when filling out the online form. A simple typo can be considered an attempt at fraud and jeopardize your ESTA application and your trip to the United States. A private site, like the one of our partner, ensures the veracity of the information contained in the form, to avoid any misunderstanding.

ESTA application status denied

If your ESTA status is denied, it means that you do not meet the criteria for the Visa Waiver Program. There are several possible reasons for this.

You may have made a mistake when filling out the form regarding your maiden name (if you are married), your passport number. It is also possible that your passport is not valid long enough for the duration of your stay in the United States. In this case, you will have to get a new passport and make sure that it is an electronic or biometric passport.

You may also have answered yes to one of the questions in the last part of the online form. These questions are about U.S. Homeland Security, answering yes to any of them drastically compromises your chances of accessing ESTA. You can always reapply 10 days after the denial.

Remember that being denied an ESTA does not mean that you cannot travel to the USA. But you will have to apply for a USA tourist visa, and therefore, you will have to go to the US embassy or the US consulate where you live. An interview with one of the consular officers will determine if you are eligible for a tourist visa.