After you submit your ESTA application, you should quickly receive a response regarding its outcome. The response will be one of three categories: “approval to travel,” which means you may move forward with your plans; “authorization pending,” which indicates your application is being processed and you should check back for updates; and “travel not authorized.” If your ESTA application response is “travel not authorized” it means your ESTA has been denied and you are not eligible to come to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program.
Fortunately, the denial of your ESTA application does not mean you are prohibited from travelling to the U.S. or that you need to cancel your plans—it just means you’ll need to seek an alternative authorization in lieu of the Visa Waiver Program.
Reasons for ESTA Application Denial
If your ESTA has been denied, there are many potential reasons for the outcome. Having a criminal record, having overstayed or abused a visa in the past, having been previously denied entry to the US, and having accidentally or intentionally provided erroneous information on your application are just a few of the reasons that your ESTA could get turned down.
The ESTA program has been carefully developed to only deny those who are truly eligible for travel or those who are determined to pose a risk. Although you may choose to consult with the Department of Homeland Security and seek to amend the denial, it’s unlikely that any status change will be made.
It should be noted that both Embassies and Consulates are unable to provide any information regarding ESTA rejections. Furthermore, no court holds the jurisdiction to review ESTA eligibility or overrule outcomes, so most application responses are concrete in nature. If you’ve received notice that your travel has not been authorized, it’s time to seek out other travel authorization options.
ESTA Visa Alternatives
If your application is denied and your circumstance have not changed, refrain from reapplying as the subsequent application will also end in a denial. If you’ve abided by the Department of Homeland Security’s ESTA guidelines and submitted your application far in advance of the proposed travel, the good news is you should have time to pursue other authorization options.
Which visa(s) are applicable for you will be determined by the reason for your trip and U.S. immigration laws, meaning visa alternatives are unique to your situation and will vary depending on where you are from and why you are travelling.
Fortunately, the US Department of State Bureau has plenty of online resources for those wishing to determine their visa options. For help, consult the Bureau of consular affair’s Visa Wizard. Using the system, you’ll be able to enter your country and primary purpose for travel and receive information on which visa(s) are suitable for you.
In most cases, you’ll need to visit a consular office at the US Embassy or Consulate to confirm your legal eligibility and apply. To find the U.S. Embassy or Consulate nearest to you, visit the U.S. Embassy government website.