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What Happens If My ESTA Is Denied?

Thanks to the introduction of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), travelers from 40 countries are eligible to enter the United States using the simplified ESTA.

Although the ESTA application process is a very simple and straightforward process, it also has some drawbacks. Namely, some travelers may receive the dreaded ‘travel not authorized’ notification in their email inbox after applying for a travel authorization or an ESTA renewal.

However, this is not the end of the world, and many individuals are still able to travel to the United States without an issue, even after being rejected for an ESTA.

To learn more about the ESTA, including reasons for denial and what to do after getting rejected, keep reading.

Reasons For An ESTA Denial

Typically, an ESTA rejection email (which has the phrase ‘travel not authorized’) will have the reason why the applicant’s travel authorization was denied.

However, there may be rare cases where there is no justification or reason behind the decision. Although the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) does not have an official list of reasons for rejection, the most common reasons include the following:

You are not a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country. At the moment, there are 40 countries that can apply for an ESTA. These include all of the European Union member countries, as well as Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom. Those who are not citizens of these countries are not eligible for the ESTA.

Nationals who have traveled to, or been present in, Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, or Yemen after March 1, 2011. This was added as a requirement through the CBP’s Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015.

Nationals who have overstayed or been deported from the United States. The ESTA application may also be rejected if the applicant has stated that they intend to stay in the US for more than 90 days.

The information noted on the ESTA application does not correspond to that of the applicant. One of the most common reasons for an ESTA rejection happens because the applicant accidentally misspelled their name or had a typo in their passport serial number. When filling out the application, it is important to double check it before submitting for approval.

Nationals who have a police record or criminal offence.

What To Do After ESTA Application Is Rejected

If you receive an email stating that your petition for an ESTA was denied, there is no need to panic.

Although you cannot use an ESTA to travel to the United States, you may still be able to get a standard US nonimmigrant visa. This can be done by visiting your nearest US embassy or consulate.

It is important to note that a traveler should not try to reapply for an ESTA with false information if they have already been rejected. This will flag the traveler in the CBP system and make them permanently ineligible to travel to the USA under the VWP program.

When going through the application process again, most travelers will typically apply for a B visa. Colloquially known as the Visitor Visa, these are nonimmigrant visas that come in two different types: the business visa (B-1), or the tourism visa (B-2).

When applying for the B visa, individuals will need to fill out the DS-160 form, schedule an interview, pay the fee, and gather the required documentation before the interview.

The required documents include the traveler’s valid passport (which must be valid for at least 6 months past your period of stay in the USA), DS-160 confirmation page, receipt of payment (which must be done before the interview), and passport-sized photos just in case.

Although not required, it is a good idea to also bring additional documentation to strengthen your case. This includes evidence for the purpose of the trip, intent to depart the United States (such as an onward bus or airplane ticket), and ability to pay for the trip (for example, a bank statement).

If the traveler’s ESTA was rejected because they plan to stay for more than 90 days in the United States or wanted to visit for a purpose other than tourism, business, or transit (i.e. studying, relocating, or finding employment), they will need to apply for a different type of visa at their embassy.

Travelers who are planning to enter the United States for the purposes of transit may need to obtain a Transit Visa (C category).

Although receiving an ESTA rejection letter may initially be a cause for concern, travelers may still be able to obtain a visa and enter the United States. By keeping these practical tips in mind and following the steps outlined above, travelers can enjoy a stress-free experience and see the United States!

This website developed and maintained by Australian Travel & Tourism Network Pty Limited for Australian Travel Service providers © last updated 24-Nov-2021