Applicant criterion when applying for a USA Visa or ESTA

Published: Jan 11, 2015, Updated: Oct 14, 2022 | Tags: ESTA, USA Visa, USA Visa Requirements

The recent and ongoing changes to ESTA Visa Waiver program highlight the US Customs and Border Protection's (CBP) growing considerations to strengthen border security by preventing individuals who are deemed a security risk from entering the US.

Your ability to obtain a USA visa or ESTA, is determined by your applicant profile and ability to fulfil a number of factors regarding your personal travel, financial and legal histories. Usually, by meeting the following criterion, your chances of being approved for a USA visa or ESTA will be higher. Thus, if applicants cannot demonstrate their adherence to these deciding factors, it may cause issues on their applications, regardless of the ESTA or USA visa type they are applying for. This article reviews each factor which may impact your ESTA application.

Your criminal/legal history has no prior major or violent incidents

Criminal history includes arrests, convictions, for violent, fraudulent or drug offences. These can also includes any involvement in organizations the US deems as being terrorist groups, or violent groups that commit crimes against humanity. If you have previous criminal history, it will likely affect the outcome of your ESTA application.

Your immigration history with the U.S. and other countries is clear

Overstayers, people who previously over-stayed their visits in America on previous trip. Travelers who overstay their visits to the United States will find it more difficult to re-enter should they apply again for an ESTA or a visa.

Your country of citizenship or travel history is not deemed problematic

Individuals of certain countries will need to provide additional information on their visa applications based on the passport they are planning to travel on to the US. 

You have no contagious diseases

If you have a contagious disease, you may find it difficult to obtain a visa or visa waiver to the United States. Such contagious diseases can include Chancroid, Tuberculosis, Syphilis, Leprosy, Gonorrhea and others. Should you be infected with a contagious disease, you should seek medical attention for treatment prior to applying for an ESTA.

You have strong ties to your home country

If you are not able to show sufficient proof of ties to your home country, then you may find it difficult to obtain a visa for the USA. This can be in the form of bank statements, investments, employment / work contract, mortgages or other personal property.

You can show the ability to support yourself financially 

You must be able to provide sufficient proof that you are able to support yourself financially whilst staying in America, based on the area where you will be visiting. If you are not in a strong financial state at the time of your journey to America, you may need to show your trip will be financed by someone else.

You do not seek employment in the USA (unless pre-authorized)

If you genuinely wish to obtain employment in the USA, you should seek to obtain sponsorship from a US employer who is able to file a petition on your behalf. Travelling to the United States for the purposes of working without pre-authorization is illegal and will result in deportation and possibly in a life-long ban from re-entering the US.

Your previous travel history does not raise security concerns

If your travel history includes countries or regions that are on the US State department's watch list, such as Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania or Yemen, among others, then you could find it difficult to obtain any entry clearance into the US. Over the past few years, the United States has scrutinized travelers that have visited countries such as Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011.

Your employment, academic, or military history does not raise suspicions

Where you work, study or performed military service is used to determine whether or not you are an applicant that may require additional screening during your embassy interview or when passing through the US Customs.

You or your family are not on any security-related watchlists

If your family are on any US watchlists for criminal or terrorist offences, you may face additional questioning at the time of your embassy appointment, as well as at the US border.

This article was a brief summary of factors that affect an applicant's ability to get approval for an ESTA. You can learn more about ESTA by visiting the requirements page or the ESTA FAQ.

For more information on applying for an ESTA or visa, visiting the following links:

If you hold a passport from a visa waiver eligible country and wish to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes, get started on your application, otherwise, visit the FAQ to learn more about the ESTA

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ESTA is a mandatory travel authorization for eligible travelers entering the United States by land, air, or sea for visits less than 90 days.

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