Been to the US before, no problem. Flying from Prague to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt to New York tomorrow (2 separate flights) at 11am. My ESTA was not authorised and I found out just today, as I had no passport with me last week.

We are staying in New York till 1st of January then flying to Cuba. While applying I entered that its not transit. Should I try applying for ESTA as "transit"?

I have 2 passports, both are Czech. I used the new one VALID til 2029, The old one is full of old visas from mostly Africa and Eastern Asia.

I reapplied for new ESTA just now. I will fly to Frankfurt tomorrow for sure, is there any chance to obtain the ESTA on the airport? Or to receive ESTA in like 18h? I would call the embassy but unfortunately its holidays.

  • 11
    When you say "not authorized", do you mean that a previous ESTA expired, or that an ESTA application was denied? Dec 25, 2019 at 12:24
  • 1
    Generally, it's usually entirely possible to get an ESTA in under 24 hours, but Christmas Day may be a problem... Dec 25, 2019 at 12:25
  • 9
    Could the apparent refusal be related to the ban on travel between the US and Cuba, which extends to non-US citizens? Related question travel.stackexchange.com/questions/149377/…
    – Traveller
    Dec 25, 2019 at 12:28
  • 1
    Generally if ESTA is denied the only way to appeal is to apply for a B visa. Transit/non transit doesn't seem likely to me to be relevant, but it's hard to say anything without knowing your answers to each of the questions on the application form. If you answered any question incorrectly then it's possible that a subsequent application with the correct answer might succeed. Can you edit your question to add the answers you supplied on the ESTA application? How long after you submitted it did you receive the refusal?
    – phoog
    Dec 25, 2019 at 15:33
  • 1
    @phoog Yes, I'm aware they're no longer virtually instant, but my last application came through on under a day. YMMV, and given the additional details provided by the OP, they're out of luck for other reasons. Dec 25, 2019 at 23:27

2 Answers 2


My second ESTA application was denied as well. I did not state it here before but I've been to Iran in 2014 for a week. I just found out that anyone who has been in Iran, Somalia, Yemen etc. after 2001 or 2011 has to apply for a Tourist visa from the embassy.

  • 14
    Thanks for reporting back. It is indeed wrong that these disqualifying conditions are nowhere mentioned in the online ESTA pages. Dec 25, 2019 at 17:07
  • 11
    It has nothing to do with you being "considered a threat". It's simply a condition in US law (since 2016) on who is eligible for the Visa Waiver Program.
    – user102008
    Dec 25, 2019 at 19:26
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    I find it somewhat surprising that they let people pay - you are not eligible for ESTA if you answer "yes" to any of the "elegibility questions"...
    – averell
    Dec 25, 2019 at 20:59
  • 12
    @DavidSupportsMonica The ineligibility of applicants who have previously travelled to Iran etc is clearly stated on the official ESTA FAQ web page cbp.gov/travel/international-visitors/visa-waiver-program/…?
    – Traveller
    Dec 26, 2019 at 9:10
  • 6
    @HermanToothrot as far as I understand, following your recommendation (intentionally lying on the application that you haven't been to Iran) would be a crime, and while it's possible or even likely that you won't get caught, it's also plausible that you will be caught (USA immigration officials are known to have all kinds of external data sources, data from other countries, reviewing your social media, etc) and in that case the likely expected result would be a near-permanent ban on entering or transiting USA. Theoretically even jail time would be an possible result, though quite unlikely.
    – Peteris
    Dec 26, 2019 at 19:17

The simple answer is that there is nothing you can do to expedite your application.

Historically many ESTA applications were approved (near) instantly, however as of late 2018 most now take at least a few days to be approved, although there have been occasional reports of them taking less.

The official ESTA application sites also makes this very clear before you start your application :

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Airlines are able to submit an ESTA application on your behalf, but this goes through the exact same process as applying online, and will take the same time, so there is no benefit of applying at the airport. In practice, most airlines will no longer do such applications now as they are aware of the delay.

Depending on the airline, it is very likely you will not be allowed fly to Frankfurt without an approved ESTA. Most airlines will check that you have travel authority to your destination before they will issue a boarding pass for even the first flight - at least when both flights are on the same airline.

  • 3
    it's quite/very confusing they say "will likely result ..." in being denied boarding. Obviously, you will utterly and absolutely be denied boarding :/
    – Fattie
    Dec 27, 2019 at 22:23
  • 3
    @Fattie I didn't say "will likely result", but ignoring that... You can't say with certainty that he will be denied boarding on the first flight. To take the simply case, the two flights could be booked on separate tickets, in which case he WILL be able to fly to Frankfurt. It's also possible that if the 2 flights are on separate carriers (but even on the same ticket) that his documentation will not be checked until the international gateway. So it's "very likely" he will not be allowed fly the first leg, but certainly not guaranteed.
    – Doc
    Dec 27, 2019 at 22:55
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    Ah @Doc !!! I meant IN THE GOVERNMENT PAMPHLET you quoted !!! Your answer is flawless and awesome! Sorry for the confusion
    – Fattie
    Dec 27, 2019 at 23:33

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