CBP recommends that you apply for an ESTA at least 72 hours before you plan to depart for the US. You will be notified about your ESTA status within the specified time frame. However, in some situations, you might be in a hurry to find out your status.
This article will inform you about how you can check your ESTA status yourself, what different statuses signify, and your plan of action should your application get denied.
How Is ESTA Checked?
When applying for an ESTA, you can either do it as an individual or in the form of a group.
Checking Individual ESTA Applications
Once your ESTA form is submitted for approval, you may check your status online. Go to the official ESTA home page and then click on the tab “Check individual status.”
At this point, you will be asked to enter your passport number, date of birth, and application number.
In case you have forgotten your application number you will be asked to fill in your country of citizenship, date of passport issuance, and expiry.
Checking Group ESTA Applications
Go to the ESTA homepage and click on the tab, “Check ESTA status”. Afterward, click on “Check group status”. Here you will be required to enter your group ID, family name, first name, email address, date of birth, and your group point of contact.
Possible Responses to Your ESTA Application
You can have three possible responses to your ESTA application.
Your application has been approved and you can now travel to the US. However, a CBP officer at a port of entry will give the final verdict regarding your entry into the country.
Along with the approval, the system will also display payment confirmation and the amount charged to your credit card (ESTA fee).
Travel Not Authorized
You are not authorized to travel to the US using ESTA. You may however apply for a US visa instead. Simultaneously the system also displays payment confirmation and the amount charged to your credit card for ESTA form processing.
This means that your form is still being processed. You will receive status confirmation within 72 hours of form submission. This status does not mean that you have received a negative response to your application. It simply means that there is a delay in updating your status.
When you apply for ESTA as a group, it is possible to receive a notification saying “ESTA group application pending”. Here again, you are required to wait for 72 hours. During this time frame, your status as a group will most likely be updated.
It is also possible that some group members receive approval while others do not. In this case, group members can reapply after a gap of ten days.
How Do I Find my ESTA Number?
Once you have successfully paid the ESTA fee and submitted your form, you will be assigned an ESTA file number. It will be assigned to you via email. This number comes in handy while checking the status of your application.
If you forget or lose the email with your application number, it is possible to retrieve it. Visit the official ESTA website and click on “Retrieve individual request”. Here select the option “I do not know the request number”.
You will be required to answer questions related to your passport, nationality, and date of birth. Fill in the answers accurately. After doing so, you will be given access to your ESTA file along with the ESTA number.
Will I Get an Email if my ESTA is Approved?
Yes, you are notified about your ESTA approval via the email address which you submitted while filling out the form. However, you may also check your status online by visiting the ESTA homepage.
What to do if ESTA is Denied?
If your ESTA is denied, you can take up one of the following routes:
Although you will not be informed about the reason for the ESTA denial, you can reassess your application. If you realize that you erroneously answered “yes” to one of the security questions or made a spelling error, you can email CBP and inform them about the error.
It is only wise to reapply for ESTA if you are certain that ESTA was denied due to a mistake in form filling. Furthermore, if you did not make any mistake but one of your conditions has changed, you may reapply.
In the case of reapplication, you will have to wait for 10 consecutive days starting from the day on which you received the denial. You will have to pay the full ESTA fee in case of reapplication.
Apply for a Visa
This is the safest and most logical course of action if your ESTA has been denied. An ESTA denial means that you are not eligible to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program. However, it does not mean that you are ineligible to travel to the US altogether.
For initiating the visa application process, we advise you to visit the nearest US embassy or American Consulate.
You can speed up your travel plans by checking your ESTA status yourself. The responses provided by ESTA are fairly easy to interpret.
In case of a denial, there are different approaches that you can adopt for entering the US. Choose an option that is the most suitable for you and don’t let a denial dampen your spirit to travel!