The solutions available in the case of an ESTA authorisation refusal

Certain people wishing to travel to the United States have experienced the disagreeable surprise of seeing their stay authorisation refused following an ESTA authorisation application. As we will look at in detail later, the American authorities have the right after studying your application to refuse your ESTA authorisation application. But in such a case is it possible to still possible to visit the USA? We shall explore this in more detail here, together with offering some advice.  

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The required conditions for completing an ESTA application:

Above all, if you wish to benefit from the ESTA visa waiver programme you will need to fulfil all the conditions as below:

  • Firstly, you need to be a resident of one of the 22 member countries of the programme, which includes the United Kingdom, that have signed this agreement with the United States in order to simplify the travel authorisation procedure for their citizens. You will therefore need a passport issued by one of these countries before being able to apply for your ESTA.
  • It is also necessary to hold a valid biometric or electronic passport that is also valid for the entirety of your visit to the USA. Your ESTA travel authorisation will be digitally or electronically linked to this passport.
  • The length of your visit to the USA is also important as the ESTA only concerns visits of less than three months. If you wish to stay longer than three months in America then you cannot use this system and will need to apply for a classic visa.
  • Finally, the reason for your visit should not be related to working or studying during your visit. Only touristic visits, those related to business or visiting family or friends are authorised by the ESTA.

If you do not fulfil one or more of these conditions it is not recommended that you apply for an ESTA as you will surely be refused.


What are the reasons for refusal of an ESTA authorisation?

An ESTA refusal, like an acceptance, is notified to you by email within a maximum of 72 hours following the submission and payment of your application. However, you may note that no specific reason for refusal is mentioned. In fact, the American authorities responsible for immigration that study ESTA applications are the only people empowered to judge the right of those wishing to enter American territory.

However the most frequent reasons for ESTA refusal are the following:

  • Erroneous information concerning you: You should particularly take care over all information concerning you that you have entered into the application form that corresponds to that in your passport.
  • An unauthorised duration of stay: We should remind you that the ESTA authorisation is only valid for stays of less than 90 days in the United States. For a longer stay you should request a visa.
  • Nationality refused: The ESTA is only available to citizens from VWP program member countries.
  • Crimes or serious offenses: If you mention that you have a police record, in accordance with the seriousness of your offense(s) your trip to the United States can be refused.


What are the possible solutions in the case of a refusal of the ESTA?

If you still wish to travel to the United States despite a refusal from the American authorities then there are two main options.

The first solution is to wait for a period of 10 days before reapplying with a new ESTA authorisation application. You will of course need to recommence the procedure from the beginning and again pay the administration fees. It should be noted that the administrative fees paid for ESTA applications that are then refused are never refunded.

If the reason for refusal is not due to an error in the information entered concerning you or your planned stay was for longer than 90 days, the only solution is to request a traditional visa from the American Embassy in your home country. There again, there is no guarantee that you will be granted one as your visa request will also be studied carefully by the American immigration authorities that may refuse it too.


How to learn the reason for a refusal of an ESTA application?

If you have received an email notifying you of the refusal by the American authorities of your ESTA authorisation application you may notice that this refusal does not state any specific reasons. In fact, in all cases no reason is given for the refusal and you cannot therefore know why the American authorities responsible for immigration have decided not to grant you the authorisation to travel to the United States.

It is therefore up to you to look for the probable cause in the previously given list. If you can find no reason for this refusal it is pointless to contact the American immigration authorities for an explanation. It may be that you simply made a mistake when completing the online application form. In this case it is best to apply again 10 days after receiving this refusal.  


Does the refusal of an ESTA enable you to obtain a visa?

The fact that your ESTA authorisation has been refused by the American authorities does not mean that you cannot travel to the USA. In fact, certain specific reasons for refusal such as the length of the visit, the reason for the visit or the fact that you do not have a biometric ore electronic passport actually mean that your visa application has every chance of being granted. 

To do this, you will simply need to complete and submit a visa application at your nearest American Embassy as this procedure cannot be completed online.

One other thing, it may be that the reasons that have persuaded the American authorities to refuse your ESTA authorisation will also not allow you to obtain a visa. This however depends on the severity of these reasons and any possible non-accordance with current USA legislation.

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