ESTA time limit exceeded
The U.S. is notoriously demanding when it comes to compliance with the law, and the ESTA validity regulations are no exception. If you have obtained your ESTA, be extremely careful not to exceed 90 days. Exceeding the legal time limit will put you in a situation considered illegal.
Exceeding 90 days: consequences
The ESTA system is a simplified procedure put in place to guarantee domestic security in the USA. It makes it as easy as possible for nationals of countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program to travel there. So, in the eyes of the American authorities, it’s an opportunity for foreigners to visit the country, but you mustn’t abuse it, as it’s severely punished.
As a reminder, the ESTA is valid for 2 years from the time you obtain your authorization. During these two years, you can make as many round trips as you like, for a total of 90 days spent in the territory. The validity of the authorization expires :
- Once the 90 days have expired ;
- After the prescribed 2 years from the issue date ;
- When your travel conditions have changed and no longer fit into the planned framework;
- Or if your personal details have changed or your passport has expired.
Should any of these situations arise while you’re still on American soil, there are several unfortunate repercussions.
The first is that, under the law, you will have the status of an illegal immigrant. You may therefore be subject to :
- in police custody;
- or confiscation of your belongings for a thorough search ;
- or expulsion from the country.
The second consequence is that, in future, the ESTA will be automatically refused. You will therefore need to apply for a visa.
What to do if the 90 days are exceeded?
If you find yourself in one of these situations, you should know that it is impossible to reapply from the USA. You must ensure that you leave the country legally and as quickly as possible. Don’t wait for the U.S. immigration authorities to summon you, and present yourself on your own initiative to the local authorities to prove your bona fides. If you miss the deadline due to an exceptional event (emergency hospitalization), your good faith will suffice to return to your country of origin without any problems.
We therefore advise you to calculate your number of days in the USA and check the validity of your documents. If you’re not sure you’ll have enough time for all your activities in 90 days, apply for a visa.