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If my visa is denied and I have a valid ESTA, can I travel to the United States on ESTA? When do I have to Re-validate my ESTA?

By April 13, 2020June 14th, 2021Questions & Answers
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The Visa Waiver Program (also called ESTA) allows people from about 38 countries to enter the U.S. using a simplified visa process.  You can find out more about the visa waiver program by clicking here.

One question that often comes up is:  Will my ESTA be revoked if my Visa is denied?  For example, let us say a person goes to the Consulate to apply for an E-2 visa and is denied.  The question arises as to whether that person could still travel if they have a valid ESTA.  The short answer is No.

There are a number of instances where ESTA is invalidated and a visa denial is one of these instances.

When you have a valid ESTA, new travel authorization (requirement that you go back to the ESTA online system and reapply) is required in the followings instances:

  • You obtain a new passport
  • You change your name
  • You change your gender
  • Your country of citizenship changes
  • “The circumstances underlying the alien’s previous responses to any of the ESTA application questions requiring a “yes” or “no” response (eligibility questions) have changed.”

The last bullet point is the one that causes the problem as one of the ESTA questions is whether you have ever had a visa denial.  We had a client that applied for an E-2 visa on his own, was denied and went to the airport to try to fly the same day.  He was not allowed to board the flight as the Government had already cancelled his ESTA.

Unfortunately, in a situation where there was a visa denial and an applicant applies for ESTA again in the future, they would likely be denied.  That is, once someone is no longer eligible for ESTA, it is not likely that they will be eligible in the future.  The Government has discretion to change this decision, but it does not happen often.

In order to travel to the U.S., a person that is not eligible for ESTA must apply for a B-1 or B-2 visa.  You can find out more about the B visa requirements in this situation by clicking here.

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