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How long is the personal information provided on the ESTA form retained?

The information will remain in the database for two years, after which it will be archived, or kept until the expiry of the traveler’s passport.

The DHS will keep your information for an additional year if they need it. The data is then archived for twelve years to allow the retrieval of information for police, national security, or for investigation purposes. Once archived, the number of officials with access to it will be more limited.

Where ESTA application data is used instead of information collected through I-94W paper, ESTA application data will be maintained in accordance with the I-94W conservation schedule, which is 75 years . Data relating to investigations or active cases, including ESTA requests that are refused, will remain accessible for the duration of the enforcement activities to which they relate.

This is in accordance with the laws of the Department of Border Protection and Customs.

Example 1: Alain
Alain is an expert in Web security. As his trip to Los Angeles was approaching, he decided to do a bit of research to find out how US authorities treat the information provided on the ESTA application.

What Alain discovered confirmed his assumptions:

  • Because the ESTA program is closely linked to US national security, there is no precise information on data processing for VWP.
  • Obviously, whenever an ESTA is renewed, the old one will be archived and the new one entered in the database.
  • If the ESTA candidate’s information does not give rise to suspicion, he / she will be allowed to go there without further delay.
  • The ESTA is valid for two years, and is archived once it expires.
  • The central US government database is likely to cross private and sensitive information between its database and its entire archive.