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Hope someone can give me some advice. On Friday I applied for the ESTA (a group application including my partner) we both were not authorized to travel. He just got his new passport on Thursday July 18 and I have my old one from 2016 still valid until 2021. We have gone twice to the US and in both years, both applications were accepted.

My plan is to go and possibly renew my passport to get a new one and reapply (individually) to see if maybe something was wrong with my passport or I didn’t check the third party box in the group application, that I found out you have to have checked if you are filling the application for someone else. I have the ESTA application from previous years and answered the exact same on everything. I don’t know what else to do. I’ll try to call the embassy as well to see if maybe they can help or know why.

I’m so scared that we won’t be able to go on vacation this August. Does anyone know why this may be possible?

This is what they responded when I asked them why it was denied.

We have determined that your ESTA application was denied because Customs and Border Protection received a requested for a refund of the $14.00 application fee. However, you have not been barred indefinitely from applying for admission into the United States, but, you must apply to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate to obtain a nonimmigrant visa to enter the United States. Pursuant to Section 217(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, the only way to dispute an ESTA application denial is to make an appointment at the U.S. Embassy and apply for a visa.

I applied on the official ESTA site

No I didn’t file a claim. When I finished the application and paid I saw the charge on my card. It’s the weekend and I can’t call my bank but I’ll ask them. I just don’t know what they would do to be honest.


Ok so..... I applied for the B1/B2 visa and they gave me an appointment for the 27 of August!! AND I LEAVE THE 18th! I requested an expedited appointment for the 5th of August and it’s still pending approval. So like an hour ago I check the appointment website and someone canceled!!! For the 9th August! Now I have two appointments one pending approval and one that’s official.

I haven’t felt so happy about something in such a long time. I was so stressed.

Just hope the say yes and approve the visa.

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    Well, there you have your answer to both why it was refused and what you need to do now. – jcaron Jul 21 at 11:42
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    Did you indeed file a claim/get a refund for the payment for the ESTA application (this one or one of the previous ones)? For instance if you lost your card and your bank asked you which transactions were valid and which ones had to be cancelled? – jcaron Jul 21 at 14:32
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    Just to emphasise that this could well refer to a chargeback for a previous ESTA application, not the current one. Have you checked if anything happened to any of those? – GS - Apologise to Monica Jul 22 at 10:16
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    @MariaMartinez right, but it's possible there was a chargeback after the applications went through. That would lead to CBP blacklisting future applications. – GS - Apologise to Monica Jul 22 at 10:56
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    This is already addressed in the answers and it sounds like they would deny it again. Can you find out, e.g. from your bank/card company, why the previous chargeback happened? – GS - Apologise to Monica Jul 22 at 12:06
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Renewing your passport won’t help, nor will contacting the Embassy or Consulate - they are not able to provide details about ESTA denials or resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.

The only solution is to apply for a visa. From the ESTA website FAQs https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html?execution=e1s1:

If a traveler is denied ESTA authorization and his or her circumstances have not changed, a new application will also be denied. A traveler who is not eligible for ESTA is not eligible for travel under the Visa Waiver Program and should apply for a nonimmigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Reapplying with false information in order to qualify for a travel authorization will make the traveler permanently ineligible for travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.

You could try inquiring via the DHS Travel Redress Inquiry Program (TRIP) https://www.dhs.gov/dhs-trip but there are no guarantees that a request for redress through DHS TRIP will resolve the Visa Waiver Program ineligibility that caused your ESTA application to be denied.

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    TRIP can take months to get a response, so for travel in August, you may not get an answer in time. I'd try the CBP Info Center first, though they often just give canned answers. Applying for a US visa, while expensive and inconvenient, is probably the best bet. – Zach Lipton Jul 21 at 20:00
  • @ZachLipton the visa costs more, but it is valid five times longer (unless Maria Martinez is a national of Australia, San Marino, or Taiwan), so the cost per unit of time is only a little over twice as high. – phoog Jul 22 at 14:27
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CBP will deny future ESTA applications if they receive a chargeback for any previous ESTA application. I can think of two obvious ways this can happen: The first is that you disputed the charge on your card yourself. Though you say you did not do this. The second is that you applied for a previous ESTA through a third party web site, that third party applied for your ESTA and then disputed the charge to defraud CBP.

  • Are you saying I called the bank and said that I didn’t want to this to be charged? Because I didn’t do this. I saw the charges on my card. The link was on the Norwegian website, airline I bought the tickets on and I checked the link and it was the exact same url as the ESTA website url. 😓😓😓 I’m so stressed – Maria Martinez Jul 21 at 15:58
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    @MariaMartinez Did you use a fake website for a previous ESTA application? – Michael Hampton Jul 21 at 17:29
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    @MariaMartinez You might have found a scam ESTA website that used a URL that would fool a human into thinking it was the same one. – Loren Pechtel Jul 21 at 22:55
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    @MariaMartinez You may want to call your bank, too! We've had our bank deny unexpected international charges without notifying us before - they may be able to re-authorize the payment and help clear this up for you. – Alex Jul 21 at 23:02
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    Whatever you do, clear this up with the bank first @MariaMartinez – Mast Jul 22 at 7:47
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If you think this is a mix-up on the CPB side, you can try to apply again: all you risk is the processing fee of $4 per application (so $8 total for you and your partner), and if there were no charge-backs for your previous applications, the new application could get through.

I wouldn't hold my breath though: if there was a problem with your credit card, or your bank screwed up somehow, or the CPB made a record on your file (even if by their own mistake), the ESTA refusal will be permanent, and the only way to go to the US is getting a visa.

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    I have called them and they said it was a charge back from a previous application like you said. How can this be possible it makes no sense. Can i apply again? They said you can try but they might deny it again. I dont know what to do. They didnt notify me before about this in 2016 (last application) – Maria Martinez Jul 22 at 12:04
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    @MariaMartinez I'm sorry to say this, but ESTA denial because of a chargeback is permanent, check this answer. Assuming the chargeback was the only issue, you could gamble and try to get to US by land, but that's just that: a gamble. If you want to be (more or less) certain you'll be let in, get a visa. – Dmitry Grigoryev Jul 22 at 12:25
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    This sucks so bad!! Ill just try to get a visa i guess – Maria Martinez Jul 22 at 12:47

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