Refused travel to the US? What to do if it happens to you

There are many reasons you can be denied an ESTA visa waiver to the US

Readers who plan to visit the US are required to apply for an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) under the visa waiver system. You can do so very easily online for just $14, but it can come as a shock if your ESTA application is denied.

This is not uncommon and it can happen for many reasons. A friend had the same name and date of birth as a gangster in the United States and had to jump through hoops to prove he was not a known criminal but a 50-something writer from Dublin. Other common reasons include mistakes or ommisions on the form, or a criminal offence, including drink driving.

If you have travelled to, or transited through, any countries on the US banned list, you will not get an ESTA. They are Iran, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Chad, Venezuela, and North Korea.

The US embassy does not administer the ESTA programme – it is run by the Department of Homeland Security. However, if your ESTA is denied and you still want to go to the United States, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa through the US embassy in Dublin.


If you want to apply for a visa, you must fill out the DS-160 form online. It takes time and you will need details of previous visits to the US and other personal information.

You must then make an appointment to visit the embassy in person, through theCSC Visa Appointment Service, or by phone (01) 9036255 or Skype USVISAIRELAND. The cost of applying for a visa is from $160, payable online.

Take the first appointment you are offered and if you need a visa sooner, you can request an expedited appointment through the same system. A consular officer will review your request and reschedule your interview if you qualify for an expedited interview.

The Visa Unit does not expedite interview appointments for non-emergency travel or if you failed to complete the ESTA application truthfully. Do not book flights until you have received your visa.

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