Reasons why an ESTA application gets denied

Published: Feb 09, 2015, Updated: Oct 14, 2022 | Tags: ESTA Denied, ESTA Travel Not Authorized

Getting denied an ESTA can be a disappointment and cause inconveniences for U.S. bound travelers. However, applicants still have the option to apply for a B1 Business Visa, B2 Tourist Visa or a mix B1/B2 Visitor Visa. So why does an ESTA application get denied? There are a few common reasons why an ESTA gets denied, or "Travel not Authorized" as it is deemed by US Customs and Border Protection. A denied ESTA is most likely due to one or more of the following reasons:

[1] Overstaying a previous visit in the United States

On a previous visit to the United States, you overstayed beyond the amount of time allowable for your visa or visa waiver. The amount of time you can stay in the U.S. per visit is usually listed on your U.S. visa and on your ESTA approval. Overstaying on either an ESTA or a U.S. visa will jeopardize future ESTA applications and usually result in an ESTA refusal.

[2] Unauthorized paid employment

On a previous visit to the United States, you did not have the appropriate visa to work. This type of violation will typically result in an automatic ESTA refusal.

[3] Denied on a previous U.S. visa or ESTA application

You previously made a request for a visa or visa waiver, and were denied entry into the United States. Applicants may or may not disclose this information on their ESTA form. Regardless, CBP will find the records of previous refusals based on the applicant's biometric data and deny the ESTA application.

[4] Incorrect, inaccurate or misleading ESTA application information

The answers you provided on your ESTA application form were deemed to be incorrect once they were cross-checked with the US government systems. Providing incorrect information can usually be mitigated by submitting a new ESTA application. However, if the eligibility questions are answered incorrectly then applicants may need to contact CBP to ask them to edit their applicant file.

[5] Incorrect passport information

You provided the passport details for a passport that you claimed to be lost or stolen, yet actually was still in your possession. This type of mistake is consistent with a potentially fraudulent application. Such instances will result in an ESTA denial.

[6] Recent criminal history

You have a criminal record, and regardless of your answer to question 2 on the ESTA application form, you were found to have a conviction history. Providing misleading answers to this question may result in a temporary ESTA approval, yet after several days, weeks or months, applicants may be notified that their ESTA has been denied after approval.

[7] Identity theft or mistaken identity

You have the name of someone who committed a crime in your name, or you are a victim of identity theft. Under these circumstances, applicants may discover their name and date of birth is identical to a famous criminal. Under such circumstances, applicants should contact CBP to discuss their situation to see if they can apply for ESTA without an automated denial in place, as opposed to applying for a U.S. visa.

[8] Mistake on an ESTA application

If you made a mistake on your ESTA application, you may find it helpful to read the article on Fixing a mistake on your ESTA application.


It is important to note that your eligibility alone does not grant you admission to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Program, nor grant you entry into the United States. Due to past criminal or immigration history on your record, you may not be permitted to travel under the visa waiver program and under no other circumstances will this change. The government system performs many cross checks across numerous databases to ensure applicants are screened properly. For one reason or another, yours has been declined. Unfortunately, the US Department of Homeland Security does not provide reasons for ESTA application denials nor are they obliged to.

If you have been denied an ESTA, you may be eligible to apply for a B2 or B1 visa to visit the United States for tourism, business, medical or transit purposes. For more visa information or to start your application visit





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