ESTA FAQ – Questions & Answers
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) is an initiative of the US government that allows citizens from participating countries to enter the US for either business or tourism without a visa. You can enter the US quickly if your ESTA application has been accepted.
The Visa Waiver Program doesn’t allow everyone to enter. Citizens of countries participating in the visa waiver program, such as European nationals, can apply. Even for short trips, travelers with passports issued by countries that are not visa-exempt must apply for either a B-1 Business Visa (for business) or B-2 Visitors Visa (for visitors). The ESTA (travel authorization) must be applied online in advance, while the I-94W form is typically completed before boarding the plane or entering the US port.
Travelers must submit an ESTA form that includes their name, last name, date of birth, passport number, country issuing the passport, and its expiration date. They must also provide information about citizenship, destination, flight number, hotel, and flight number. The traveler will also be asked a series of security questions regarding their criminal history and any previous visa revocations or deportations.
Yes, the applicant may submit a request to obtain the ESTA before completing the form with specific travel information. Travel details (such as flight and hotel numbers) can be changed at a later date. Travelers are not required to update their travel information if their ESTA USA is approved.
Online ESTA applications should not take longer than 15 minutes. The response to the application submitted by applicants should arrive within 72 hours. However, there may be delays depending on the situation. We encourage travelers to check if they qualify for ESTA and apply for the waiver of visa weeks before their trip. DHS encourages travelers to apply for ESTA as soon as possible after they begin planning their trip.
If the US government rejects an ESTA USA request, but the traveler wants to visit, they can still apply for a visa. They can do this at any American embassy. We recommend contacting officials if you feel authorities made a mistake or if you believe you misinterpreted something or assumed it was a reason for your denial but later realized that it wasn’t.
After submitting their ESTA application, travelers are typically approved and allowed to enter the United States in 72 hours. Please note that these are only indicative times. Each case is unique and could require extra time. Moreover, travelers should be aware that an ESTA approval does not guarantee entry into the US. Border officials always make the final decision.
The ESTA data is retained until the expiration of the traveler’s passport or for the remaining validity period. DHS can keep this data for another year before archiving them for 12 years for law enforcement, security, or investigation purposes. The paper I-94W can be automatically filled out by air or sea, thanks to ESTA. The admission record of a VWP guest accepted by the automated system will be kept for 75 years per the I-94W retention schedule. I-94W data and I-94 records are kept for this period of time to ensure that any information regarding a specific entry into the United States can be used to provide immigration or enforcement benefits.
Your ESTA has been valid for two years since you received it. Nevertheless, remember that your ESTA and passport are linked: if your passport expires, so does your ESTA. Check the date you applied for your ESTA and received a positive response. You can also consult our page to check or update your ESTA. You will need to reapply if your ESTA expires.
Which countries are eligible to travel under the ESTA authorization?
- Czech Rep.