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There is a question in the ESTA :

  1. Do you have a physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict; or do you currently have any of the following diseases (communicable diseases are specified pursuant to section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act): Cholera, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis infectious, Plague, Smallpox, Yellow Fever, Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean-Congo, Severe acute respiratory illnesses capable of transmission to other persons and likely to cause mortality?

Let's suppose Mr. A has been recently diagnosed with depression, but needs to travel to the US under the VWP, so, they fills their ESTA

Due to the complete lack of explanation of what counts as a mental disorder, do they answer Yes or No when diagnosed with depression?

A third-party site mentions this, but with absolutely no basis to the claims

You currently have a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder that may pose or has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others; or You had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder that has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others and the behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior. Answer "No" if:

  • You currently have no physical or mental disorders; or
  • You have or had a physical or mental disorder without associated behavior that may pose or has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare of that of others; or
  • You currently have a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior, but that behavior has not posed, does not currently pose nor will pose a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others; or
  • You had a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior that posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others, but that behavior is unlikely to recur

EDIT: I got to find that paragraph in the official ESTA Help, and that would likely guide people diagnosed with Depression to answer No. Nevertheless, I have contacted CBP for definite answer

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  • As you see, it is about public security (else there should no be discrimination on health status), so depression should not count (but if that could create security threads). Write an email to a consular office ("for a friend", or just ask a friend to write it). Jun 17, 2022 at 8:51
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    wow, in the age of Covid that last clause about severe respiratory illness would exclude a LOT of people. Jun 17, 2022 at 12:10
  • Given that regarding respiratory illness it's restricted to "do you currently have any of the following diseases ", a lot less people are excluded, and if you currently have such an illness capable of transmission to other persons, you shouldn't travel anyway
    – dunni
    Jun 17, 2022 at 12:39
  • @KateGregory luckily Covid is not “likely to cause mortality” at this point. Something like MERS or Ebola would be.
    – JonathanReez
    Jun 17, 2022 at 14:56
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    Given the vagueness of another ESTA question ("moral turpitude") I'm sure that the answer to your question is probably rooted in "whatever they want the term to mean"
    – Peter M
    Jun 17, 2022 at 15:39

1 Answer 1

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The text you've found can be found in the official FAQ from the US government under "Can you provide guidance and clarification for some of the Eligibility questions?"

Physical or Mental Disorders With regard to physical or mental disorders, answer "Yes" to this question if:

  • You currently have a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder that may pose or has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others; or
  • You had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder that has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others and the behavior is likely to recur or lead to other harmful behavior. Answer "No" if:
  • You currently have no physical or mental disorders; or
  • You have or had a physical or mental disorder without associated behavior that may pose or has posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare of that of others; or
  • You currently have a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior, but that behavior has not posed, does not currently pose nor will pose a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others; or
  • You had a physical or mental disorder with associated behavior that posed a threat to your property, safety or welfare or that of others, but that behavior is unlikely to recur.

For the vast majority of people with mental illness, and even more so for those fit to travel, the answer will be No to this question, and incorrectly answering Yes out of an abundance of caution is likely to lead to delay and inconvenience (at best, you may be able to reapply, while at worst, you'd need to apply for a visa at a US consulate and address any concerns they may have).

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