Can I risk an overstay in the USA with ESTA?

Setting off on an adventure and traveling to the United States without applying for a visa is possible thanks to ESTA ! But you can’t stay in the U.S. forever. The maximum time allowed for a stay in the USA with ESTA is 90 days; is it still possible to go beyond that?

First, we’ll explain how to obtain ESTA authorization, and then we’ll look at the possibility of staying longer on American soil.

90 days maximum with ESTA

ESTA is part of the Visa Waiver Program. If you are a national of a Visa Waiver Program country, you may be able to apply for ESTA authorization. All participating countries are listed below:

AndorraHungaryNew Zealand
AustriaItalyCzech republic
BruneiJapanSaint Martin
South KoreaLatviaSlovakia
FrancePolandIsrael (2023)
List of countries eligible for the US WVP program

To obtain an ESTA, you must also have a valid passport, travel by sea or air, and plan a stay in the U.S. (tourism, business or transit) of no more than 90 days.

When you apply for ESTA, you will be asked to confirm your travel dates (outward and return) so that the American authorities can be sure that you are not planning to stay longer in their country.

The maximum duration of your trip to the USA with ESTA is 90 days; however, you can renew your trip several times, as ESTA is valid for two years.

To request your 90-day ESTA document, you can visit the official government website and apply via an online form.

What are the risks of staying longer than 90 days in the USA with an ESTA?

As a reminder, an ESTA does not allow travelers to live in the USA, study at a major American university or work there. What’s more, if you exceed the 90-day time limit, you could get into trouble, as you must be out of the country by then.

Why might you not have left the U.S.?

All these situations can put you in a bind. In fact, if you exceed the 90 days authorized by the ESTA, you become an illegal immigrant for the U.S. government.

American authorities don’t usually take this lightly. So you can say goodbye to your future travels to the United States of America, whether via an ESTA or a USA visa. You may even be arrested or deported.

If you can’t leave the U.S. because you’re hospitalized, keep all proof of this (hospital bill with dates, for example), as the U.S. authorities may be more lenient in special cases.

In conclusion: don’t play with fire, if you think that 90 consecutive days of ESTA is not enough for your trip, turn instead to a visa application at the US embassy or consulate. Traveling to the U.S. with a U.S. visa costs a minimum of $185 and takes longer to obtain, but you’ll be able to stay longer than the three months allowed by ESTA.