Sometimes, when we travel, things come up and our plans have to change. Whether it is by choice or obligation, we might have to extend or shorten our stay in a foreign country. In any case, each nation has unique regulations and requirements and the United States is no exception.
You’re a national of one of the 38 countries in the Visa Waiver Program and you have applied for an ESTA. However, can you extend your ESTA while already in the U.S.? Unfortunately, the answer is no. This travel authorization grants you 90 days in U.S. soil, not more. The department of U.S. citizenship and immigration services specifies that you may not apply to extend your stay if you were admitted to the United States under the visa waiver program. We will explain further down below.
Bear in mind that when you receive an ESTA this does not mean that you can stay in the U.S. for unlimited time. While this authorization is valid for 2 consecutive years and allows multiple trips over this period, it does not imply that you can stay in the United States as long as you wish. Visitors who qualify in this program can stay only up to 90 days, any stay longer than this could result in sanctions by the Department of Homeland Security.
We can not emphasize enough that the ESTA is not a visa, it is a travel authorization. There’s a clear distinction between renewing your ESTA and extending the ESTA. When you enroll with the ESTA you are able to check its status and its expiration date. If you have an upcoming trip and your travel authorization is about to expire, all you need to do is apply for a new one. You cannot extend your ESTA however, there are no exceptions.
Traveling to any country can bring about doubts, concerns and excitement all at the same time. It’s important you prepare yourself in case you lose your passport or if you miss your plane. It’s also advised that you educate yourself on the things you need to do before your travel, one of those things is knowing the conditions of your ESTA.
If you are planning to stay in the United States for a period longer than 90 days you must obtain a visa through your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The ESTA cannot be extended and you should investigate what conditions and options are available for you instead.