Common Reasons for An ESTA Denial

Updated on Jan 18, 2024 | Online US Visa

Not all travelers who apply for an ESTA will be approved. In some cases, an ESTA may be denied for various reasons, which shall be discussed henceforth in this article.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is a pre-screening process for travelers who want to visit the United States for tourism or business purposes under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). ESTA applications are reviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine if the traveler poses a security or immigration risk.

Denying your ESTA application is a very upsetting event that may be very inconvenient for people who want to go to the United States. If this occurs, applicants from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries still have an option: apply for a B2 Tourist Visa, a B1 Business Visa, or a B1/B2 Visitor Visa, which is a combination of the two. You might be able to alter the information you supplied on your ESTA application if you made a minor error. Major errors, such as inputting the incorrect passport number, cannot be remedied afterward. You must submit a fresh ESTA application.

What Are the Potential Explanations For Your Application Being Rejected?

The CBP (Customs and Border Protection) may reject an ESTA application for a variety of reasons. We've listed a few of the most popular explanations below:

You previously overstayed in the United States

On a prior trip to the United States, you exceeded the maximum time given by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Alternatively, you exceeded the maximum duration permitted by your last U.S. visa.

You applied for the wrong type of visa

When you previously visited the United States, you did not have the correct type of visa for your visit. You could have worked while on a tourist visa, for example. This would very certainly result in the denial of future U.S. visa applications.

Your prior ESTA or visa application was also denied

You previously applied for an ESTA visa waiver or a visa, which was denied, preventing you from entering the United States. Because the circumstances surrounding your earlier refusal have remained the same, your latest ESTA application has also been rejected.

You provided inaccurate information on the ESTA application

The US government discovered that one or more of the responses you provided on your ESTA application form needed to be corrected when they cross-checked your user information with other databases.

The form contained incorrect passport information

You included information about a passport that you previously claimed was stolen or lost but that you still had in your possession on the ESTA application form. Alternatively, you may have supplied inaccurate passport information that corresponded to the passport details and identity of another tourist who was also rejected an ESTA.

You have a criminal record

Regardless of how you answered eligibility question 2 on the application form, if you have a criminal record, CBP will most likely learn about it, and your ESTA application will be denied.

Identity theft

Someone may have used your name illegally to conduct a crime, or your name may be the same as someone else who committed a crime. When CBP conducts data checks on ESTA applicants, your name is identified as a security concern.

You traveled to a blacklisted country

If you visited any of the following countries on or after March 1, 2011, you will almost certainly not be eligible for an ESTA: Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen are all candidates.

You have dual citizenship or are a national of a blacklisted country

If you have dual citizenship in Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, or Yemen, you will not be given an ESTA unless the nature of your visit is not suspicious or dangerous to US security.

The United States allows some foreign nationals to enter the nation without going through the laborious application process for a United States visitor visa. Instead, these foreign nationals can visit the USA by requesting a US Electronic System Travel Authorization, or US ESTA. Learn more at ESTA US Visa Requirements.

Other Reasons

  • Incomplete or inaccurate information: Submitting an ESTA application with incorrect or missing information can result in a denial. This could include providing an incorrect passport number, dates of travel, or answering security questions inaccurately.
  • Criminal history: If a traveler has a criminal record or has been involved in criminal activities, they may be denied an ESTA. This includes convictions for serious crimes such as drug trafficking, terrorism, and human rights violations.
  • Health-related issues: Travelers who have communicable diseases or a history of drug abuse may be denied an ESTA.
  • Past visa violations: Travelers who have previously overstayed their visa or violated the terms of their admission to the U.S. may be denied an ESTA.
  • National security concerns: If a traveler poses a threat to U.S. national security, they may be denied an ESTA. This could include being a member of a designated terrorist organization or having ties to a country that supports terrorism.
  • Ineligibility for the Visa Waiver Program: The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) has specific eligibility criteria that travelers must meet in order to apply for an ESTA. If a traveler does not meet these criteria, they may be denied an ESTA.
  • Refusal of admission to the U.S.: If a traveler has been previously refused admission to the U.S. or deported, they may be denied an ESTA.
  • Non-compliance with U.S. immigration laws: Travelers who have previously disregarded U.S. immigration laws or have a history of non-compliance may be denied an ESTA.
  • Misrepresentation: Travelers who provide false information or attempt to misrepresent the purpose of their trip may be denied an ESTA.

Few Points To Keep In Mind

  • It is important to note that even if a traveler is approved for an ESTA, CBP retains the right to deny entry to the U.S. at the port of entry. Factors such as changes in the traveler's circumstances, new information about the traveler, or changes in U.S. immigration laws may result in a denial of admission.
  • If an ESTA application is denied, the traveler can reapply after correcting the issue that led to the denial. However, suppose the denial is based on serious criminal activity and health-related issues, or national security concerns. In that case, the traveler may not be eligible to travel to the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program and must apply for a traditional visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Additionally, travelers who were previously denied a visa to the United States may also be denied an ESTA. If a traveler has a history of being denied a visa, it is important to review the reasons for the denial and address any issues that may have led to the rejection.
  • It is also important to note that if a traveler has a previous immigration violation or a history of overstaying their visa, they may be denied an ESTA. This can include overstaying their visa by even one day and having a history of violating the terms of their admission to the U.S.
  • Another reason why an ESTA may be denied is due to past travel to certain countries. If a traveler has recently visited countries that are known to support terrorism or have a history of promoting terrorism, they may be denied an ESTA. This includes countries such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, and North Korea.
  • It is also important to note that travelers who have been issued a National Security Entry-Exit Registration System (NSEERS) designation may also be denied an ESTA. NSEERS was a program that required individuals from certain countries to register with the U.S. government upon entering and departing the U.S. The program has since been discontinued, but travelers who were designated under NSEERS may still be denied an ESTA.
  • Additionally, travelers who have previously been denied a U.S. visa for any reason, including health-related issues, may be denied an ESTA. This includes travelers who have been denied a visa for medical reasons, such as a contagious disease, and those with a history of drug abuse.
  • Finally, travelers who are dual nationals of Iran, Iraq, Syria, or Sudan may also be denied an ESTA. This is due to recent changes in U.S. immigration law that restrict travel to the U.S. for individuals from these countries.


In conclusion, an ESTA can be denied for various reasons, including incorrect or missing information, criminal history, health-related issues, past visa violations, national security concerns, ineligibility for the Visa Waiver Program, refusal of admission to the U.S., non-compliance with U.S. immigration laws, or misrepresentation. It is important for travelers to review the requirements for the Visa Waiver Program and ensure that they meet all eligibility criteria before submitting an ESTA application. If an ESTA is denied, travelers should take the necessary steps to correct the issue and reapply if possible or consider applying for a traditional visa if they are not eligible for the VWP.

The mere fact that you are eligible for an ESTA does not grant you authorization to go to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. It also does not grant you automatic entry into the United States.

Because of your previous immigration or criminal history, you may be denied entry to the United States under the VWP. If your ESTA application is denied for one of these reasons, you will not be able to apply again, no matter how many times you try. CBP does several cross-checks, comparing your answers on your ESTA application form to other databases to ensure that the wrong applicant is not given entry into the United States. You should also be aware that the US Department of Homeland Security does not, and is not required to, provide reasons for rejecting an ESTA application.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Online USA Visa. Get answers to the most common questions about the requirements, important information and documents required to travel to United States. Learn more at US Visa Online Frequently Asked Questions.

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