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What does ESTA Application Pending mean?

Updated: Aug 23, 2023  | Tags: ESTA, ESTA Application Pending

If your ESTA application is pending, it means that the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is reviewing the information you provided on your form. You will usually be notified of the final decision on your application within 72 hours, otherwise, you can check your ESTA application status here.

This article provides a summary of the most frequent questions and answers we receive when applicant's ESTA status is pending.

What does ESTA Application Pending mean?
What does ESTA Application Pending mean?

[1] Why is your ESTA application pending for up to 72 hours?

ESTA applications can typically be flagged for additional security checks, or because Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is processing a high number of ESTA applications. A pending ESTA application signifies that additional screening is needed to process your application and ensure you do not pose a security or immigration risk. Typically, CBP advises allowing 72 before checking for an update, yet the majority of decisions on ESTA applications are reached within 48 hours. However, whilst your ESTA application is pending, you are not authorized to travel to the United States.

[2] How long will my ESTA application remain pending?

In the vast majority of cases, a decision is made within 72 hours. It's essential to check the status after this time to determine if your application has been approved or denied.

[3] Can I travel to the U.S. while my ESTA application is pending?

No, you cannot travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program if your ESTA status is still pending. You need an approved ESTA before boarding a U.S.-bound plane or vessel or driving across the border to the U.S.

[4] What should I do if my travel date is approaching, and my application is still pending?

It's advisable to apply for ESTA at least 72 hours before your travel. If your application remains pending beyond this period and your travel date is imminent, consider seeking advice from an immigration attorney or checking alternative travel options.

[5] What if my pending ESTA application is denied?

If your ESTA is denied, it means you are not eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program. You will be notified via email and will receive information on applying for a U.S. visa. The typical response from CBP includes a link to the following website to apply for a tourist, transit or business visa: You will be charged a nominal processing fee if your application is denied.

[6] Can I reapply if my application is denied?

Yes, you can reapply for ESTA, but only if your circumstances have changed or if you believe there was an error in your previous application. Otherwise, reapplying with the same information will likely result in another denial.

[7] Where can I check the status of my pending application?

You can check the status of your ESTA application on the status checker.

[8] Are there fees associated with checking the status or reapplying?

There is no fee for checking the status of your ESTA application. However, if you decide to reapply, you will need to pay the associated application fee again.

[9] Who can I contact if I have more questions about my pending status?

For specific inquiries about your application, you can reach out to U.S. Customs and Border Protection or visit their official website for more guidance.

[10] What if my pending ESTA application is approved?

Alternatively, if your ESTA application is approved, you will receive your authorization number via email or be able to view the number on the check your ESTA application screen. With this authorization you can travel to the United States so long as your ESTA is not revoked for other reasons such as a change of circumstances regarding your application.

[11] It’s been more than 72 hours and my application is still pending, what do I do?

In the unlikely event your ESTA application is still pending after 72 hours, you should contact CBP to determine if a final decision has been reached. Alternatively, you can submit a new application.

The ‘Application Pending’ status of the ESTA visa waiver can create a stressful situation for U.S. bound travelers as they face uncertainty around their admission at the border. Thus, in order to avoid situations of last minute travel plan alterations, travelers are advised to apply for their ESTA early and ensure their authorization remains valid up until their day of departure by checking their ESTA application status.

Remember, ESTA approval is a prerequisite for visa-free travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program. Always ensure that your ESTA is approved before making any final travel arrangements.

If the check from your ESTA application has returned as ‘Application Expired’ or ‘Not Found’ you can start a new application if you hold a passport from a visa waiver country such as the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or other Western European Country, and wish to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes, get started on your application, otherwise, visit the FAQ to learn more about the ESTA

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