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ESTA authorization denied, what to do?

Published on 21 July 2021
ESTA authorization denied, what to do?

The U.S. government attaches great importance to preventing travelers from entering the United States for improper reasons, such as residing or working in the territory illegally. This is why it has established the ESTA program.

For a temporary stay (up to three months) in the United States, citizens of certain nations can benefit from a program that allows them to be exempt from applying for a traditional US visa.

However, in order to participate in this program, known as the Visa Waiver Program, they must meet certain essential conditions and still obtain an ESTA electronic travel authorization.

Why is an ESTA authorization denied?

The ESTA application, unlike traditional U.S. visa applications, is conducted online and provides consent from consular authorities to undertake travel. It is possible for an application for travel authorization to be denied. The denial of an electronic residence permit may be related to several factors.

Generally, authorities do not provide any justification when an ESTA travel authorization is denied. The reason for denial should be identified within the application submitted, and any errors made should be highlighted and corrected in order to resubmit the application. However, when the application is refused, for various reasons, it is not always possible to correct any errors in the compilation and the application is approved at a later date. For this reason, it is always good to be careful when filling it out. It will not be possible to cancel the registration immediately after completing it. You must wait at least 10 days before submitting a new application, otherwise the outcome will be the same.

Normally, an USA ESTA application is authorized quickly unless there are problems. Once submitted, the status of the application becomes "Travel Authorization Pending". This condition is only temporary, and this status will be changed to "Travel Authorized" in most cases.

However, if a problem with the application is identified, either due to a filling error or a positive response to one of the security questions, the status will be changed to "Travel Authorization Not Granted" and you will not be allowed to travel to the United States on an ESTA visa.

Listed below are the most common reasons for denial of an ESTA application.

Most common reasons for denial of an ESTA application

One of the most common reasons for a U.S. ESTA application to be denied is when an affirmative "YES" answer is given to one of the security questions on the online application form that must be completed in order to be granted.

The questions in the ESTA form are intended to keep travelers who may pose a threat to the United States out of the territory by checking the applicant's past medical histories, arrest histories, and criminal records (read more at ....). In most cases, answering "Yes" to even one of these questions will result in an automatic denial of the application. This is not to say that it is possible to get around this by answering "No".

Making a false statement is a crime and could preclude you from obtaining any type of visa or permit for the U.S. in the future.

In quite a few cases, an application may be rejected if the applicant accidentally clicked 'Yes' on an application that was intended to be answered 'No'. It is of the utmost importance to carefully check for any incorrect information when applying for ESTA and especially before submitting the confirmation.

But what are the most common reasons for application rejection?

The most common reasons for application denial are:

  • Answering YES to any of the questions in the questionnaire to be completed.
  • Having a criminal record related to serious crimes for which you have been convicted. Read the article Online ESTA Form with a Criminal Record
  • You have already been denied an ESTA application or an ordinary U.S. visa in the past.
  • Exceeding the 90-day consecutive stay limit under the ESTA conditions.
  • If you have been engaged in an employment activity without proper authorization or visa status
  • The traveler has been denied entry to the United States for various reasons on previous trips.
  • You have been deported from the United States in the past.
  • Using a passport that has been lost in the past but was later found after the loss was reported. In this case, you should apply for a new passport before applying for an ESTA visa.
  • Being listed as a No fly or a member of a criminal group

As stated above, if you select "Yes" as the answer to any of the questions, travel to the United States via ESTA would not be authorized. However, if you select "Yes" by mistake, you will be able to reapply. It is best not to declare False, the databases are centralized and lying about a conviction would not serve any purpose but only preclude any possibility of entering the USA without even having the chance to apply for an ordinary visa.

Questionnaires on the application are intended to keep out travelers who might pose a threat to the U.S. by checking the applicant's previous arrest and criminal record histories.

What to do if ESTA is denied?

If your application was denied because you made a mistake while filling out the application or because you accidentally answered YES to one of the security questions on the questionnaire, you will need to wait 10 days to reapply and pay the fees again. If the second application is rejected again, you may contact U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and ask them to correct the erroneous information, but in this case, you will have to prove, with possible presentation of documents, the veracity of the data.

Whether a mistake has been made or not, the refusal of authorization obliges the traveler to the United States to undertake the alternative route of applying for a b1 visa if the trip is for business, the B2 visa if the trip is for tourism. It is possible to opt for other types of American visas according to the needs.

In order to apply for B category American Visas, it will be necessary to follow a rather long and difficult bureaucratic procedure, which involves filling in forms online and a subsequent interview at the nearest American Embassy, where you will be asked to present your documents.

We summarize the procedure for applying for a Category B visa:

  • Complete the DS-160 online form on the U.S. Embassy website.
  • Submit payment of the required fee, carefully retaining a copy of the receipt showing the application identification number.

Prepare the necessary documents to be submitted. Generally, they are:

  • Original passport (must have at least six months validity, including the period of intended stay in the United States)
  • Any previous passports issued within the last 10 years
  • Family status, and other types of proof of residence, marital status, etc.
  • Photograph (5 x 5 cm, taken within the last six months)
  • DS-160 online application confirmation form
  • Receipt for payment of visa application fee (issued with the confirmation of interview appointment in case of credit card payment)
  • Confirmation of interview appointment form
  • Documents certifying your current employer, school, etc.
  • Documents certifying your bank account balance, and certifying your current financial situation
  • Documents showing details of salary received and a tax return
  • Documents certifying hotel reservations, travel itinerary or airline tickets
  • Documents detailing your criminal record, if you have a history of arrests.


In short, as we've read, ESTA electronic travel authorization can be denied for several reasons. These are mainly non-compliance with the required conditions, information errors, criminal records or invalidity of documents. In some cases, appeals can be lodged against the competent bodies.

A new application for authorization or the classic visa application is other alternatives for further travel to the USA. For all the above reasons it is necessary to be very careful when filling out the Online Application Form.

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