I am writing because I have a question regarding my ESTA application and because I could not find a similar case online that would help me at this stage. I have never been to the U.S. so this would be my first visit.
I am a German citizen, hence eligible for the Waiver Program. I applied for an ESTA in June 2014 and got approved. After further research on the Internet I learned that the passport should be valid until 6 months after the planned return date. My passport was due to run out in Feb 2015 - which still should have been fine but because I didn't want to take chances I applied for a new passport which was issued August 2014 and is now valid until August 2024. My passport number has been changed also.
After I received my new passport I was advised by a friend to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa as it would allow me to extend my stay and it seemed like a good idea at first. On the day of my interview I also applied for a new ESTA with my new passport number (just in case) which again was granted.
Unfortunately for me the interview for the B-1/B-2 visa was unsuccessful and I got rejected. I was not aware then that after a rejected interview one could not travel with ESTA, otherwise I would have never risked it!
Now I am very concerned, can I still use my ESTA and enter the U.S.? as I read everywhere that once you get rejected the chances of getting through are very slim and any visa rejection will result in not being able to use the waiver program.
It might be important to note that both the B-1/B-2 interview and the waiver application were on the same day, 21st of August 2014, so depending on how one might look at it that might present a problem too I suppose.
I guess the frustration lies in the fact that I did not need to apply for a B-1/B-2 visa to begin with, and had I not I would now not have these problems. I would like to know how likely it is that I can still travel under the waiver program, if at all, and what my options are at this point.