The response time for ESTA confirmation

When planning an upcoming visit to the USA, it is necessary to hold a visa or, more simply, an ESTA authorisation. The latter concerns citizens from the certain member countries of a system that wish to visit the United States for a period of less than 90 days. Faster and easier than the visa procedure, the ESTA application takes place online. But what is the response time for an ESTA confirmation? This is what we will look at closely here, together with offering you some valuable advice.  

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This website is not affiliated to the American Government. You may complete the procedure without supplementary costs on the official website

The response time from the American authorities:

When you complete an ESTA application online through a website such as ours, you will not obtain an immediate response for a very good reason. Only the American immigration service officers are authorised to give a response, either affirmative or negative, to your application for travel authorisation. This is the reason why, after completing your application form, it is then submitted to the American authorities who examine your request. It may seem that the processing time is quite long but in fact not at all.

In fact, the maximum response time for your ESTA application is 72 hours. But generally you obtain a response in far less time. Using our website, your application form is forwarded directly and immediately and therefore processed within a minimum time.

This ESTA confirmation is sent directly by email, to the email address you entered in your questionnaire.


When is the ideal time to submit an ESTA application form?

Now that you know the response time for the ESTA authorisation, you know when to submit your application form. In fact, this travel authorisation application for the United States should be submitted 72 hours before your departure, at the absolute latest. It may be tempting to leave it until the last minute to complete this procedure as you ESTA authorisation, once obtained, is valid for a period of two years. This means that you can reuse it during this period for future trips to the USA.

However, we strongly recommend that you prepare well in advance. It may happen that due to a simple mistake in your completion of the application form, or for another reason, your application is refused. In this case you should be aware that you will have to wait 10 days after the refusal notification before you submit a second application. Taking this waiting period into account, it is therefore better to submit your initial application form at least two weeks before your departure date.

Another important thing to know before submitting your application concerns your official travel documents, particularly your passport.  During your ESTA application procedure you will be asked for your valid biometric or digital passport number. Of course, the passport number you provide should be the same one you will use for your trip. It should therefore be valid for the entirety of your visit.


What is the average time delay before receiving a confirmation to an ESTA application?

As you can confirm by reading the following text, obtaining your ESTA authorisation is generally fairly rapid. But maybe you would like to know when you will receive the confirmation that your travel authorisation application is being processed.

You can obtain this confirmation in different ways. Certain websites actually send you a confirmation email stating that your application has been transferred to the American immigration authorities and that it will be rapidly processed. But if you do not receive this email then you can confirm that your application is being processed in either of two different ways. 

The first consists of visiting the American government’s website and using your application reference number to consult the status of your application online.

The second consists of verifying that the payment of the fees has been debited to your bank account. In fact, it is only when the payment has been completed that the application is transmitted and processed.

You can obtain a confirmation that your application has been received and is being processed just a few minutes after submitting the application and making payment.


What to do if you have not received a response to your ESTA within the period stipulated?

If you have correctly followed the procedure for your ESTA application without any problems then you should receive a response to your application within a maximum of 72 hours following its submission, generally in only a few hours.  If this time has not passed then it is pointless to worry. In fact, although most people receive a response to their ESTA application in only a few hours it may be possible that your application requires certain verifications that may require extra time up to the 72 hours maximum.

But what should you do if you have still not received a response to your application after this time has passed? The first thing to do is to check the status of your application by visiting the official American government website. To access your application you will ideally need your reference number if you have received it or you can use your passport number as well as other information pertaining to your identity. If the status of your application states ‘authorisation approved’, you have nothing else to do as your ESTA is already electronically linked to your passport, even if you have not received a confirmation email. If the status of your application states ‘application refused’ this means that you are not eligible for this programme but it may be possible for you to visit the USA with a visa depending on the reason for this refusal. Finally if your status is ‘pending’ this means that your application is being examined and you will shortly receive a response to your application.

If you are not able to access your file or it does not exist, this means that your application has not been registered. This could relate to a problem submitting your online application or, more often, a problem concerning your payment online using a credit or debit card. It is therefore prudent to check your bank statement to confirm if the payment of the correct amount was made. If not then you will need to repeat the entire procedure once again from the beginning, first checking that you have sufficient funds available for the payment and your debit or credit card is not blocked.

Finally, it is possible that your ESTA confirmation has truly been sent to you but there is a problem relating to your email address or email inbox. The first thing to do in this case is therefore to check your spam or junk email folder in case your ESTA application response has been misfiled there. If you still do not find your response it may be that you made a mistake when entering your email address on the online form. In this case you can still verify the status of your ESTA as indicated above.

To avoid this type of disappointment you should know that certain independent service providers such as our partner offer the opportunity of receiving a copy of your ESTA at your home address as well as the email confirmation. This of course takes a little more time and costs a small supplementary fee but it does enable you to receive confirmation that your authorisation has been granted or refused.


How soon can you use your ESTA after obtaining it?

Let us now look at the time period within which you are able to use your ESTA authorisation once you have obtained it. You are not actually obliged to travel to the USA as soon as you obtain your ESTA and in fact your visit can take place much later after obtaining it.

However, do not forget that your ESTA has a two year validity period on the condition that the information entered on your original application does not change. If it has or the time period has expired you cannot use this ESTA authorisation to visit the United States, even if you never actually used it for a visit. It is therefore best to optimise the validity period of this authorisation by only applying for it when you truly need it, this means when you are planning a visit to the USA.  

Another important thing to remember concerning your ESTA relates to the length of your visit. In fact, this time should not exceed 90 consecutive days. For a longer visit than this you should apply for a visa for the United States which entails a longer and more complicated procedure. You should therefore leave plenty of time for this if necessary. 

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