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What are the ESTA authorization questions?

Published: Sep 01, 2018, Edited: Aug 22, 2019 | Keywords: ESTA questions, ESTA application, ESTA authorization

The nine ESTA eligibility questions are designed to help the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determine an applicant's entry permit to the United States as part of the Visa Waiver Program. Each of these questions is very important as the applicant's answer on issues such as personal health, criminal record, drug use, terrorist activities, US employment aspirations, immigration visa history, and travel history to select countries in Africa and the Middle East gives the CBP clear indications whether the applicant poses a security risk.

ESTA eligibility question 1

“Do you have a physical or mental ailment; do you abuse drugs or are a drug addict; or you currently have any of the following diseases (infectious diseases are defined under Section 361 (b) of the Public Health Service Act): cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, hemorrhagic fever, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean Congo, severe acute respiratory diseases that are contagious and likely to be fatal. "

The first ESTA eligibility question relates to the applicant's physical and mental health, as well as drug use and infectious diseases. The question clearly states which diseases the applicant must disclose. These health-related issues are grouped into one question because they pose a collective risk to the health of US citizens and a burden on the US healthcare system if a traveler suffers from a physical or mental illness, is addicted to drugs, or one of the diseases mentioned suffers. The US government understandably wants to control and regulate communicable diseases and other health-related risks.

ESTA authorization question 2

"Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime that resulted in serious property damage or serious harm to anyone or government agencies?"

The second ESTA eligibility question asks the applicant to indicate with “yes” or “no” whether they have been involved in non-drug related crimes that have harmed another person or their property. The term “morality” was previously used on this issue, which has created confusion for applicants as to the legal definition. Fortunately, DHS rephrased the question, but while the question is now more understandable, the term “difficult” can be interpreted in different ways. It is up to the applicant to assess the severity of the harm or harm caused by a crime. Every European government classifies the severity of crimes differently than the US, where crimes are classified as crimes, offenses (including violations) or administrative offenses. For example, depending on the extent of the damage, administrative offenses are viewed as “minor” and less serious criminal offenses and range from petty theft to intoxication in public and vandalism to reckless driving and possession of cannabis. Crimes are extremely serious and include such offenses as manslaughter, murder, burglary, tax evasion, arson, treason, fraud, etc. It is important for applicants to be aware that ESTA has access to criminal records of European governments during the examination of applicants.

ESTA eligibility question 3

"Have you ever violated the law related to the possession, use or distribution of illegal drugs?"

The third ESTA eligibility question is related to drug-related crime. In contrast to other questions on the ESTA form, this question is very clear and precise and easy to understand, no matter what country the applicant lives in or what nationality they have. An ESTA applicant who has violated the laws relating to the manufacture, consumption or trafficking of illegal drugs must answer this question with “yes”.

ESTA eligibility question 4

"Do you seek or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?"

The fourth ESTA eligibility question is clearly worded and aims to identify applicants who have committed terrorism, espionage, sabotage or genocide. This question does not relate to the applicant's criminal record in relation to these activities, but asks them to disclose whether they plan to engage in such activities while in the United States. If the applicant really wants to pursue such activities, he must answer this question with "yes". The definition in Merriam-Webster is:

Terrorism is the “unlawful use of force and intimidation, especially against the civilian population, to achieve political goals”.

Espionage is “the spying on or the use of spies, usually by governments, for the purpose of obtaining political or military information”.

Sabotage is “willful destruction, damage or obstruction, especially for political or military gain”.

Genocide is "the willful killing of a large group of people, particularly members of a particular nation or ethnic group".

ESTA eligibility question 5

"Have you ever committed or misrepresented yourself to others in order to obtain a visa or entry to the United States, or have you assisted others to do so?"

Applicants who acted fraudulently or misrepresented themselves when applying for a US visa or ESTA are considered a security risk. For this reason, CBP has included this question on the ESTA form in order to be able to deny authorization to these people. Regardless of whether a crime was committed for personal gain or for the benefit of another person, the ESTA applicant must disclose if they have acted fraudulently or misrepresented themselves, even if they have not been prosecuted or caught.

ESTA eligibility question 6

"Are you currently trying to get work in the United States, or have you ever been to the United States without prior permission from the U.S. Government employed in the United States? "

Anyone entering the US under the Waiver Program or on any other non-work visa is violating their residence permit if they work in the US without US government approval. This question is intended to disqualify ESTA applicants seeking a job in the US or who have previously violated their US visa terms. Travelers in the United States are not allowed to accept work on a B-1 or VWP and must obtain the appropriate work visa prior to doing any form of paid work in the United States. An ESTA cannot be used by job seekers, but it is likely to be used if you are entering for an interview set prior to your arrival in the United States. Applicants with an approved ESTA can be asked at the border to state the planned interview as the reason for their visit. Such visitors must also state on their US landing card that they are entering for business purposes.

ESTA eligibility question 7

"Have you ever received a U.S. The visa that you applied for on your current or former passport has been denied, or has you ever been denied entry to the United States, or your application for entry to a U.S. has been denied. Destination withdrawn? "

The seventh ESTA eligibility question clearly requires information on previous U.S. visa application denials as well as U.S. entry refusals. The question also prompts ESTA applicants to indicate if they have withdrawn entry authorization at the US border. CBP believes that an applicant withdrawing their application at the border acted out of fear of being refused entry. This process is therefore counted in the same way as a rejection. Please note that this question does not ask for information on previous ESTA denials as the system will automatically recognize your application history when you submit it. Applicants often make mistakes in their ESTA applications and receive a rejection as a result. In this case, the ESTA applicant will probably have to resubmit the form and answer the question with "yes" in order to repeat the process.

ESTA eligibility question 8

"Have you ever been longer than the U.S. Government granted length of stay in the United States? "

It is considered a blatant violation and violation of visa regulations if the length of stay granted to the USA under a visa alternative or a visa is exceeded. Persons who have stayed in the country longer than approved with a previous US visa or ESTA must assume that they will hardly receive any further visas or ESTAs for the USA. Even if you stay one day longer than the visa or ESTA allows, this will have consequences for your future entry permit.

ESTA eligibility question 9

"Did you travel to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen on or since March 1, 2011 or were you present there?"

In 2016, additional rules were introduced due to increased security and terrorism threats. The ninth ESTA eligibility question has been added to the ESTA form to exclude people who have traveled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since 2011. These countries are classified as a security risk by DHS. ESTA applicants who have traveled to these countries since 2011 must therefore disclose the fact in their ESTA application.

If you answer “yes” to any of these eligibility questions, your ESTA application is likely to be denied. So make sure you fully understand the questions before answering. If you answer “yes,” the system will ask you to confirm your answer before proceeding. Misleading or intentionally incorrect answers to the eligibility questions or in any other part of the form are likely to result in your ESTA application being rejected.

If you have a passport from a VWP country such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Western European countries and would like to obtain an ESTA for tourist, business, medical or transit purposes, submit your application now or go to the FAQ to learn more about ESTA.

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