In short, there are four main steps that will take place after your staking deposit has been sent and before your validator will actively propose and attest. The time it takes for your validator to become active will depend upon current network congestion.
Mempool – Status: Unknown
The first step of the process takes place in the Mempool, which acts as a sort of waiting room for the transactions. During this step, the transaction status is pending, waiting approval.
The speed and execution of the transaction depends on the chosen gas fee. Miners ‘pick’ the transactions with the highest gas fees, since they will receive higher returns. If the network is highly congested (many pending transactions), cost of transactions (gas fees) goes up. In this case, there is a higher chance that new transactions will ‘outbid’ older transactions, causing significantly longer wait times.
Deposit Contract – Status: Deposited
Once step one is complete, and the transaction is ‘picked’ by a miner, the transaction will reach the deposit contract. In this step, the deposit contract checks the transaction for its input data and value. This process takes an average of 7.5 hours.
If the threshold of ETH is not met or the transaction has no/invalid input data, the transaction will be rejected and the funds returned to the sender’s address.
In order to avoid mistakes or incorrect deposits, the network can only review transactions that have been in the deposit contract for 1024 Ethereum 1.0 blocks. This ensures that transactions do not end up in a reorged block.
In addition to the 1024 Ethereum 1.0 blocks, 32 Ethereum 2.0 Epochs must also pass before the Beacon Chain recognizes the deposit. During these 32 Epochs, randomly selected validators vote on newly received deposits, to approve their validity.
So why exactly 7.5 hours?
1024 blocks = 1024 x ~13 seconds = 13,312 seconds = ~4 hours
32 Epochs = 32 x 6.4 minutes = 204.8 minutes = ~3.5 hours
Once this step is complete, the validator status will change to Deposited on the Beacon Chain explorer.
Validator Queue – Status: Pending
Once step two is complete, the ETH deposit is officially accessible to the Beacon Chain. Much like the previous steps, the Validator Queue phase also requires waiting. Depending on how many deposits were made to the network in total, a queue is formed. Each Epoch, only four validators are activated, which comes to about 900 validators a day.
Staking – Status: Active
In this phase, the validator is actively staking, signing attestations, proposing blocks, and more importantly, earning rewards in the form of ETH for its activity.