My ESTA application was denied. What you need to do?

Why was my ESTA application denied?

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There could be a number of reasons why your ESTA application was denied. Here are some of the more common reasons why your application might have been given a 'Travel Not Authorised' response:
  • During a previous trip to the United States, you may have overstayed the 90-day period of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), or even a visa.
  • You may not have had the appropriate visa during a previous trip to the U.S. - for example, you may have worked on a tourist visa.
  • The answers that you provided on your ESTA application were inaccurate and the Government was able to deduce this while cross-checking with their systems.
  • The passport you used to apply for ESTA was reported missing or stolen.
  • Previous applications for visa or the Visa Waiver Program were denied.
  • You have a criminal record - even if your answer states otherwise on question 2 of the ESTA application form, the U.S. government can check if you have any criminal history.
  • Someone may have stolen your identity and committed a crime in your name.
  • You may have previously travelled to or have a nationality from the following countries (applies for people who travelled in these countries on or after the 1st of March 2011):
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Sudan
    • Libya
    • Somalia
    • Yemen
  • You have dual citizenship with any of the following countries:
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Sudan
    • Syria
Aside from the reasons stated above, the US immigration authorities can raise a red flag that could affect your ESTA application if they notice any problematic posts on your social media pages. If the immigration authorities conclude that you are risk-based and can be a threat to the nation, your ESTA application will be rejected.
It is important to note that your potential eligibility for the VWP does not mean that you are guaranteed entrance to the U.S., as there are other factors involved in granting people entrance into the U.S., such as immigration or criminal history. Also, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security does not have to give reasons why an ESTA would be declined, which is something tobear in mind.
If your application for ESTA is denied and you are from a VWP country, there is the option to apply for a B1 Business Visa or a B2 Tourist Visa, as well as a number of other visa types that may be relevant for you when you require to travel to the U.S. for their purposes. There is also a combination for both purposes which is a B1/2 Visa.

My ESTA Application Was Rejected for no Specific Reasons

Even if you didn’t break any of the rules, it is possible for your application to still be rejected. The US immigration authorities have the right to reject your ESTA application without giving you specific reasons. And there is nothing you can do in this case. Even if you submit a new application, the chances are high that it will still be rejected.
In some cases, the ESTA application was initially approved but later withdrawn. Sometimes, the travellers will find out about the update at the airport, which could lead to a bigger problem. So, to avoid any surprises, it is advisable that you confirm the validity of your ESTA on the US Immigration Service website before departure.

What Should I Do If My ESTA Was Rejected?

If your ESTA was rejected, you cannot appeal this decision. This is clearly stated in the approval statement when filling out the ESTA form. If an ESTA has been denied, the chances are very slim that it would be accepted if you submit a new application. So, it is pointless submitting a new application.
The way forward will be to apply for a travel visa to the US. However, you should bear in mind that the application process is more expensive and takes longer than the ESTA. You would also be required to do an interview in person at the consulate. This, among many other reasons, is why people prefer to go for the ESTA if they are eligible for it.

Related FAQs


Will strikes and delays affect my ESTA application?

If airlines go on strike and your flight is cancelled, this shouldn’t affect your ESTA application. Once your ESTA is approved it remains valid for 2 years or until your passport expires, this depends on which one comes first.

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How Long Does an ESTA Application Take?

One of the key benefits of applying for an ESTA instead of applying for a US visa is that the processing time is much faster. The whole process is completed online, which means that the administration elements are much quicker. Generally, an ESTA application will take less than 72 hours to get processed but in many cases, it is much quicker than this, even taking a few minutes in some applications.

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Who can access the data on my ESTA application?

Generally, your application and information are only accessed by government officials on a "need to know" basis. The information on your ESTA application is stored by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and they control the database with any information collected by applications.

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