Can you travel individually to the United States on a group ESTA?

My significant other and I travelled to the USA in late 2015. We made a group ESTA application and it was approved and we went on holiday.

I’m travelling to the States in a week on my own this time, and I’m wondering if I can use the ESTA reference, or if it will be met with confusion as I will be travelling on my own?

Is the group application purely a convenience to register multiple ESTAs (so I’ll be fine), or is the group application somehow binding that I have to be travelling in that group for it to be valid (so I’ll need my own, individual one)?

Answer

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an automated system used to determine the eligibility of visitors to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

For convenience, the system is able to handle both individual and group applications. When submitting a group application of anywhere from 2 to the maximum of 50 individuals, each person’s biographic information is considered separately. For example, if an application in a group submission goes into a pending status or is not granted, it does not affect the processing of the other applications in the group.

Thus, it is the individual, not the group, which is given authorization to travel to the United States. As long as your ESTA continues to be valid, travelling solo is not a problem.

As a handy side note:

If you provided ESTA with your email when you applied, you will receive an expiration notice when your ESTA is about to expire. The email will advise recipients to go to the official ESTA Web site to reapply.

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