By Maud Poudat | US Immigration Attorney
Posted: July 1, 2015
That is indeed very bad news for the ones who intended to enter the US for summer vacations, and were sent back home because they failed to clear U.S. immigration! If you have been refused admission in the U.S. with your ESTA, not all hopes are lost.
First, let’s clarify a point: ESTA is not a visa and getting your confirmation page does not mean that you are entitled to enter the U.S.! And if you were found inadmissible by Immigration upon entry on ESTA, your only solution would then be to apply for an actual visa to enter the U.S. in the future…
A citizen of one of the 38 countries covered by the Visa Waiver Program –VWP- may enter the U.S. for a limited amount of time (not exceeding 90 days) without a visa. Other nationals must obtain a Visitor or Business Visa (B-1/B-2) before seeking entry in the U.S.
If you are eligible for the VWP, will have to submit an electronic application at least 72 hours before your trip –but I highly recommend that you do it at least a week before your departure- and have your confirmation with you when you land into the U.S. But having this receipt does not guarantee your actual admission in the U.S.
A visa, on the other hand, has a cost to it and takes more time to be granted, implying the completion of a lengthy nonimmigrant visa application, and an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. However, note that the Immigration office can always refuse someone’s entry based on a mere suspicion of immigrant intent, suspicion of unauthorized employment, fraud, or other grounds of inadmissibility. But the very existence of the visa infers that you have already been subject to close scrutiny by U.S. officers, and will certainly ease your clearance through Immigration…
In addition, applying for a visa may be your only remaining option if you were previously refused entry on ESTA… But your chances of getting a visa will also depend on the reasons why you were found inadmissible in the first place!
Therefore, I strongly recommend that you seek professional advice from a Board Certified Immigration Attorney about your situation: before your trip, if you have any doubt about your possible denial, and if necessary after you were denied entry by Immigration, to investigate together your visa options.