If you are planning a trip to the United States, you will need to find out your authorization for the Visa Waiver Program. This program determines whether someone is eligible to travel to the United States for business or tourism purposes. The maximum length for this kind of visit is 90 days.
To figure this out, you need to go through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, or ESTA. Once you go through the process, your authorization stands for two years. If you are not sure whether you still have authorization or need to submit another application, there are steps you can take to figure it out.
First, go to the section of the ESTA website that allows you to check your status. The form asks for certain details like name, passport number, and birth-date. Once you submit the form, you will get feedback on what the status of your application. Generally there are five possible application statuses, Approved, Declined, Pending, Expired and Not Found. Below is an explanation of where each applies.
- Approved: Ideally, you would like to see that your authorization was approved. If this is what shows up, it means you can now travel to the United States. The exception is if Customs and Border Protection blocks your approval. On this page, you can also find your expiry date and application number.
- Declined: In some instances, you may see that your authorization was not approved. This could be for many reasons, including a mistake on your application. Alternatively, you might not be eligible for some reason to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. You should get in touch with the support team to find out what happened and, if needed, update any errors. Even if you are rejected for ESTA, it is still a possibility to apply for a different kind of visa. Look into all of your options.
- Pending: If your application status is pending, this means it is still being reviewed by Customs and Border Protection. This does not necessarily mean that you will be rejected. The process of traveling to the United States has several security layers and they may need more time to make their decision.
- Expired: Perhaps your status page says that your authorization has expired. In this situation, you need to submit a new application for authorization and go through the process again.
- Not Found: The last possibility is that your application was not found. This likely means that there was an error when you filled out the form. Perhaps something was misspelled or a wrong number was entered. Make sure you put in the correct details when you did your search before anything else. If all of the information is correct, you can then move on to getting in touch with ESTA’s support team for more guidance.
Traveling abroad can be complicated, especially when security checks have so many layers. With ESTA, it is important to know in advance if you are approved and how much time you have on the clock. When you can make those determinations well ahead of time, the act of traveling will be that much easier.