From 2008 onwards, many travellers planning trips to the United States who are nationals of the ‘Visa Waiver’ countries are required to make an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application before they depart.
The following are currently classified as Visa Waiver countries:
Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Malta, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
For many the ESTA is a simple process, especially when using a professional checking service such as ourselves to review the content of the ESTA visa application. While a great deal of travellers experience no issues whatsoever when applying for an ESTA, some do find that their ESTA has been rejected.
If your ESTA application is denied, you have three immediate choices. You may decide not to pursue the application and cancel plans to travel. Or if you wish to travel, you are able to apply for a non-immigrant visa with your local US Consulate or Embassy. Thirdly, you might consider reapplying. For more information and further assistance, it is recommended that you refer to the Department of State website before you take your next course of action.
You should be aware that if you reapply for an ESTA USA visa using false details you could be stopped from travelling to the US indefinitely. If you feel that you might have filled in some information wrongly, or in some circumstances, did not initially understand a certain part or parts of the application form, there are some options open to you.
You can send an email to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) using the ‘Email Us Your Question’ button on their website. After filling in your original application number, full name and passport number, as well as your date of birth and contact phone number, you will be invited to submit a description of what you believe you answered incorrectly. It is recommended you take these steps before reapplying so as to avoid making further errors.
Circumstances such as the scenario detailed above can be avoided by using a support team such as ours to check through your application. For a minimal cost you can ensure your application is submitted with correct spelling and grammar, and that you meet the criteria to the best of your abilities.
The US Customs and Border Protection privacy laws in place mean that you will not be told the exact reason for your ESTA form being rejected, but there are some well known reasons why ESTA applications are commonly denied.
ESTAs can be rejected because the applicant stayed in the US longer than authorised on a previous visit, or that they came as a visitor but were found to have been employed in unauthorised work.
Complications could also arise if the applicant has been previously denied entry to the US, or had a visa application rejected.
Incorrect answers to VWP (Visa Waiver Program) eligibility questions can lead to ESTA rejection. Also, if the applicant previously reported their passport lost or stolen, but then finds the document, this can also be the reason for rejection.
Some of these problems are more easily resolved than others, and each may prompt you to take a different course of action.
There is no emergency or ‘express’ system in place for ESTA applications at US embassies. For this reason, applicants are advised to start their ESTA registration process well before they intend to travel, and use a professional checking service to eliminate any errors which may surface.
If you are not approved for travel through the ESTA process, and do not wish to reapply, you may still be eligible to enter the US with a B-1 Business Visa or B-2 Visitor Visa. Look for more information on the Department of Homeland Security website to assess if this is a realistic option.
Successful applicants should note that approved ESTAs remain in effect for two years, or until the applicant’s passport expires – whichever occurs first.
As with all visa processes, it is worth carefully reading all official guidance provided to you and consider seeking professional advice when completing your application.