How many days in advance should I apply for ESTA?
How many days in advance should I apply for ESTA?
When you have decided to travel or stay on the mainland U.S. or islands in U.S. territory such as Hawaii for up to 90 days, you will need to apply for ESTA.
While you can enter Guam and Saipan in the Marianna Islands without applying for ESTA, the longest you can stay without ESTA authorization is 45 days. If you apply for ESTA, you may stay for as long as 90 days. 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. However, in some cases it may take even longer, due to factors such as the U.S. side’s system maintenance or system problems, and also when the server is down.
We accept your ESTA application at anytime, 24 hours/day, 365 days/year. The results of your application should be sent about three days after you apply, but we recommend applying for ESTA soon after you decide to travel to the U.S.
Why is ESTA required to travel to the U.S.?
Some might wonder why they need to apply for ESTA to travel to the U.S. at all.
In January 2009, the U.S. began requiring travelers visiting the U.S. for short stays under the visa waiver program to apply for the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), for reasons including security purposes in the U.S. and to prevent terrorism in the U.S. and around the world.
Adoption of ESTA made it possible to check the following things in advance by managing and registering information on travelers coming to the U.S. for short stays under the visa waiver program online before they depart for the U.S. These things are intended to confirm in advance whether individual applicants have a status that enables them to visit the U.S. without a visa or whether they might pose a risk to the U.S. if admitted to the country.
Nationals of countries that are authorized for the visa waiver program when visiting the U.S. for short stays may enter without applying for and obtaining a visa, for up to 90 days for sightseeing or a business trip. ESTA can be described as a necessary travel authorization for those entering the U.S. without a visa. ESTA is also required when changing flights heading for another country at an airport in the U.S. In some cases, travelers who have not applied for ESTA prior to departure have been refused entry to the U.S. in immigration screening or have not been permitted to board their flights.
Be sure to apply for ESTA if you plan to visit the U.S. or to change flights at a U.S. airport. Those who have a visa issued by the U.S. do not need to apply for ESTA.
Can I apply for ESTA even on the day of travel?
Many travelers apply for ESTA on the day of travel or right before it, because they were unaware of the ESTA program or forgot to apply earlier. Although in some cases ESTA screening goes smoothly and travelers receive authorization to travel without a hitch even when applying for it on the day of travel, in others screening may be put on hold for even a short time, meaning that they will not receive the results of screening smoothly.
Please note that applying for ESTA on the day of travel will not guarantee receiving authorization to travel smoothly.
ESTA is a system that does not require the traveler to apply himself or herself. If you are too busy to apply, you can ask an agent to apply for you. Contact the Center if you have any questions. If you apply for your ESTA through us, we will notify you the results of screening by email.
You can apply for ESTA even if your travel date is several months ahead
ESTA application is available as soon as you have decided to travel to the U.S. You may apply for ESTA even if you have not yet decided where you will stay in the U.S. We recommend applying soon after you have decided on plans to travel to the U.S. ESTA is valid for two years, although if your passport will expire in less than two years, your ESTA will expire at the same time as your passport.
Check your passport’s expiration date before applying for ESTA.
Apply for ESTA at least three days before you travel
Although it takes three days, or 72 hours, for the results of screening to be finalized after you apply for ESTA in most cases, it may take longer at times such as the peak travel periods of March and August and also after large-scale system maintenance. In consideration of such cases, the U.S. recommends applying for ESTA at least three days before you travel.
You will need to apply for a visa if your ESTA application is rejected
You will need to apply for a visa if your ESTA application is rejected for any reasons.
The types of visa include B visas, mainly for travel for tourism purposes, E visas, for those planning to stay in the U.S. mainly for business purposes, and L visas for those transferring to work at companies in the U.S. If your ESTA application is rejected, you will need some kind of visa to travel to the U.S., and it usually takes 1-2 months from when you apply for a visa until you receive it.
The major differences of application between ESTA and a visa, in addition to the time required, are the numbers of documents that must be submitted and whether or not you need to visit a U.S. consulate for an interview. In various ways such as these, applying for a visa is much more time and cost consuming. For this reason, we recommend that those traveling to the U.S. for short-term travel or training apply for ESTA instead of a visa. If you answered “Yes” to even one of the eligibility questions when applying for ESTA, screening may take longer than 72 hours. If you are refused authorization to travel to the U.S. after applying for ESTA, double-check whether you answered every question truthfully and entered all the numbers and letters correctly on the application, try to see and determine why your application was rejected. If it is clear that the rejection was due to a mistaken entry on the form, you will need to apply for ESTA again, wait at least 24 hours and be sure to enter the information correctly. (You will have to pay the applicable charges to apply for ESTA again.) ESTA applications are accepted 24 hours/day, 365 days/year.
Apply for ESTA as soon as possible after you have decided to travel to the U.S.