If You’ve Applied for an ESTA to Visit The US Recently You May Have to Reapply

Aug 6, 2019

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Any British national (or national from countries eligible under the Visa Waiver Programme) wishing to travel to the US needs to apply and be approved for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorisation) before starting their trip. The automated system checks “eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) and whether such travel poses any law enforcement or security risk” according to the official US government website.

ESTA became mandatory in 2009 and is valid for 2 years (though lapses if the traveller’s passport expires before the end of such 2 year period). Once approved, travellers can stay in the US for up to 90 days and passengers are strongly encouraged to apply for an ESTA no later than 72 hours prior to any planned travel to the US.

The ESTA website was updated on 5th August 2019 and any applications that were in ‘pending payment status’ have been archived meaning applicants will have to start a new application. If travellers who have applied in the last week or so and have not received a confirmation should check the status of their application on the official website. While this may not normally affect many traveller, this month happens to be one of the busiest travel periods of the year and will see a huge amount of travellers arriving in the US.

MIAMI, FL - MARCH 04: Leonel Cordova (L) and Noris Cordova speak to a CBP officer as they try to use their new mobile app at an entry point as the program is unveiled for international travelers arriving at Miami International Airport on March 4, 2015 in Miami, Florida. Miami-Dade Aviation Department and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) unveiled a new mobile app for expedited passport and customs screening. The app for iOS and Android devices allows U.S. citizens and some Canadian citizens to enter and submit their passport and customs declaration information using their smartphone or tablet and to help avoid the long waits in the exit lanes. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Though the system usually sends out automatic email reminders of upcoming ESTA expirations, it’s worth checking the status or having a reminder if it’s been a while since the last application. Our very own Head of Video, Jean Arnas, recently got caught out by not realising that his ESTA had expired and he was stopped by the airline from travelling to the US. Thankfully, the airline accommodated him on a flight a few hours later after his ESTA application had been approved.

Since earlier in the year, applicants are also being asked details of their social media accounts when applying, though this is optional.

Last year, a British national was refused entry to the US when she accidentally declared herself as having been involved in terrorist activities or genocide.

Featured image by PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images

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