If your ESTA authorization is pending | ESTA Online Center (2023)

What are the reasons for authorization to be pending after applying for ESTA?


If your ESTA authorization is pending | ESTA Online Center (1)

The three patterns of ESTA application results

It is required to apply for ESTA and receive “authorization approved” status to travel to the U.S. without a visa, even for just a few days. After completing your ESTA application, if there are no problems you may receive “authorization approved” status within 3 days (72 hours) after you apply. However, in rare cases your status may be “authorization pending” or “travel not authorized.” The numbers of such cases have increased over the years, and this likely is due to increase cases of terrorism around the world.
In 2016, the number of screening questions on the ESTA application form increased, and screening for entry to the U.S. has become stricter. This page explains what to do in case you notice that your status is “authorization pending” or “travel not authorized.”

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Status after completing ESTA application

1.“Authorization approved”:Authorized to travel to the U.S.
2.“Authorization pending”:Screening in process, or application pending for some other reasons
3.“Travel not authorized”:Not authorized to travel to the U.S. for some reasons (may apply for a B visa)

1.If the result of your ESTA application is “authorization approved”

Applicants who have received the result of “authorization approved” have been authorized to travel to the U.S. under the visa waiver program. You are required to comply with the periods and purposes of travel specified for the visa waiver program. If you intend to stay longer than allowed under the visa waiver program or to visit the U.S. for a purpose not included among those eligible for the visa waiver program, then apply for the required visa (such as student or work visas) instead of ESTA.

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2.If the result of your ESTA application is “authorization pending”

The status “authorization pending” means that screening of your application is still under examination. Although results of ESTA application are displayed within three days, or 72 hours, in general if your current status is “authorization pending” then screening of your application still is underway. In that case, we recommend waiting a few hours and then refresh the page to check your status again. On rare occasions, server downtime or large-scale system maintenance at U.S. Customs and Border Protection may delay responses concerning the results of screening. Therefore, please be patient and wait for your results. Also, in rare cases the message “application not found” may appear after an ESTA application is in “authorization pending” status. If that happens, your ESTA application has not been completed properly. The status “travel not authorized” may be displayed in the case of a failed application. Remain calm and try not to panic even if your status is “authorization pending.”

3.If the result of your ESTA application is “travel not authorized”

“Travel not authorized” means that you have been refused authorization to travel to the U.S. for some reason. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, which oversees ESTA, will not inform travelers as to why their travel was not authorized. If your travel is not authorized even though you have no serious criminal record and you cannot think of any other reasons for the refusal of authorization, the most likely reason is a mistake in the information you entered.
When applying for ESTA, the application form asks about past criminal history, medical history, and rejected visa applications. For those who mistakenly answered “Yes” to any of these questions, those who have correctly answered “Yes,” or those who submitted a false application concealing a criminal history or medical history for which you should have answered “Yes” to one of these questions, almost without exception your ESTA application will be rejected and your status will be “travel not authorized.” Pay attention and make sure to enter information accurately when applying for ESTA.

You may apply for ESTA again after 24 hours

Even if your status became “travel not authorized,” you may apply for ESTA again as many times as you wish. However, it is decided that for an applicant to be able to apply for ESTA again must to be after at least 24hours have been passed since you were notified of the rejection.
If you entered information incorrectly on your application you may apply again after correcting the information, though screening is stricter for travelers who have been rejected authorization even once, and for this reason it may take a longer time until you are notified of the results.
If your status is “authorization pending,” that means the screening is still underway. Wait for a while and then refresh the page to check your status again. The application fee will not be refunded even if your authorization was rejected due to having entered information incorrectly. You will not be permitted to travel to the U.S. until you have applied for ESTA again, using correct information, and receive authorization. If your application is rejected due to an error in entering information, do not panic; wait at least 24 hours and then apply for ESTA again.

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What if my ESTA application is pending? ›

If your status is “authorization pending,” that means the screening is still underway. Wait for a while and then refresh the page to check your status again. The application fee will not be refunded even if your authorization was rejected due to having entered information incorrectly.

How long does ESTA authorization pending take? ›

The maximum processing time of an ESTA application is 72 hours but applications are often processed much quicker than this. Once you have completed the application and paid the ESTA application fee, you will soon receive a response, this can sometimes take just minutes but can take a few days at most.

How will I know if my ESTA has been approved? ›

How can I check my ESTA is still valid? You can check the status of your ESTA application at any time. Visit the governmental website, and click on the “Check Existing Application” option, which will take you down to the “Returning Applicants Check ESTA Status” section.

Why is ESTA not approved immediately? ›

If you notice this, it signifies that your screening procedure could not be finished automatically and will need to be reviewed more closely. In some cases, ESTA will not be authorized immediately.

Is it normal for ESTA to be pending? ›

Most authorizations are issued the same day, however, some applications may be “pending”. Don't panic, if you have nothing to reproach yourself for, you should know that this status is common and that it is not synonymous with refusal. Thus the validity of the ESTA is not yet effective but pending.

How can I speed up my ESTA approval? ›

The short answer to this question is no, you cannot fast track an ESTA application. However, by ensuring that your ESTA application is completed with all of the correct information, there is a much better chance that it will get processed quickly and approved.

Can I get ESTA at the airport? ›

The good news is that the ESTA application can be completed using your mobile, so you can apply for it whilst you are at the airport, provided that you have internet connection. The other requirements are: You have a valid biometric passport. You have a payment card to pay the application fee.

Will I get an email when my ESTA is approved? ›

Usually, you will receive an email within a few hours, or up to 72 hours after submitting your application. You are also able to check on the website for your application status, if you have the application reference number.

Is it normal to wait 72 hours for ESTA? ›

Although there are no specific rules regarding how many days in advance you need to apply for ESTA, normally you will receive the results of your application within three days, or 72 hours. Therefore, it is recommended to apply for it at least three days in advance.

How long does ESTA application processing take? ›

How long ESTAs take for approval. In the past, ESTA applications were often approved instantaneously. While speedy processing can still occur, a safer bet is to allow 72 hours for your approval to be granted.

How fast can an ESTA be approved? ›

A determination will usually be available within 72 hours. Please return to this Web site and click "Check ESTA Status". Your application number, passport number, and birth date will be required to check the status of your application. Don't see what you're looking for?

Can I travel on ESTA while waiting for visa? ›

To sum up: while there is nothing in the immigration regulations that would prohibit you from entering the U.S. on ESTA/B visa while your visa petition is pending, you may face some extra scrutiny by the CBP officers as the border (especially if you have been living in the U.S. and working here for several years).

How do I get ESTA urgently? ›

How do I apply for an urgent request ESTA? If you apply for an urgent request you have to fill in the ESTA form on our website. Under the heading of ' Urgent request', check 'emergency'.

Why is my ESTA under review? ›

Your travel authorization is under review because an immediate determination could not be made for your application. This response does not indicate negative findings. A determination will usually be available within 72 hours.

Can I expedite an ESTA application? ›

Can I do anything to speed up the ESTA processing timelines? There is no way you can speed up the processing time when your ESTA application status shows as 'Pending'.

Can you get on plane without ESTA? ›

All travellers

You will need to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter or transit the USA as a visitor.

What happens if you arrive in USA without ESTA? ›

What happens if a VWP participant travels to the United States after ESTA is mandatory, but somehow does not have an ESTA? VWP travelers who have not received an ESTA approval may be denied boarding, experience delayed processing, or be denied admission at a U.S. port of entry.

Do I need a printed copy of my ESTA? ›

You don't need to print off or take your ESTA information with you when you travel – it will automatically be sent to your carrier. It's up to you whether you update your travel information on the ESTA system for future trips.

How long does an ESTA application take to be approved? ›

An ESTA application is processed instantly online and a majority of applications are approved within a minute of submission. However, there are cases where a decision on an application may be delayed by up to 72 hours. Once an ESTA application is approved, the user will be notified via their web browser or email.

How long does it take for an ESTA application to be processed? ›

Generally, an ESTA application will take less than 72 hours to get processed but in many cases, it is much quicker than this, even taking a few minutes in some applications. Once an ESTA application is submitted, it goes to the Department of Homeland Security to get checked and approved or declined.

Can I get ESTA before booking flights? ›

Yes. Specific travel plans are not mandatory at the time of application, but you will need a U.S. point of contact. Although specific travel plans are not required, the address where you will be staying in the United States is recommended to complete the application.

Can you be denied entry with ESTA? ›

It's important to note that even if you already have an approved ESTA, you may still be denied entry to the US since customs and border guards have discretionary powers to permit or deny admission to the United States.

Can I travel to US while waiting for consular processing? ›

If you choose to go through consular processing, it can be difficult to travel to the United States while your application is pending — even just for a short trip. This is the case even if you already have a valid tourist visa.

Can you get an ESTA in 24 hours? ›

The ESTA is usually processed within 24 hours when you choose standard processing. However, for travellers who need a faster response, there are urgent and super urgent processing options.


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