What are the ESTA Questions?
To be able to travel to the US visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program, you will need to be granted ESTA.
The ESTA application is an online form on the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website, used to pre-screen visitors to the USA. The form asks the applicant several questions to ascertain whether they meet the admissibility requirements.
The form is relatively straightforward to complete, and in most cases, applicants receive a decision immediately after submitting the form, or at the latest within 72 hours.
Before you start the form, it is helpful to be prepared and to have to hand all the necessary information.
Full disclosure is essential when completing the ESTA application. It is a criminal offense under US law if you fail to answer the questions truthfully and comprehensively, which will impact your future US immigration applications.
ESTA eligibility questions
ESTA questions about the applicant & passport information
- Family Name
- First (Given) Name
- Date of Birth
- City of Birth
- Country of Birth
- Passport Number
- Country of Citizenship
- National Identification Number
- Passport Issuance Date
- Passport Expiry Date
- Passport Issuing Country
- Have you ever been issued a passport or national identity card for travel by any other country? If yes, provide Issuing Country, Document Type, Document Number, and Expiration Year.
Common errors to avoid in this section include typos in passport numbers and omitting middle names.
ESTA questions about other citizenship/nationality
- Are you now, a citizen or national of any other country? If yes, provide the Country of Citizenship / Nationality.
- How did you acquire citizenship/nationality from this country?
- Have you ever been a citizen or national of any other country? If yes, provide the Country of Citizenship / Nationality.
If you hold or have previously held citizenship with more than one country, you have to declare this and disclose how you obtained the citizenship.
ESTA question on Global Entry Membership
- Are you a member of the CBP Global Entry Program? If yes, provide the PASSID / Membership Number.
The Global Entry program members benefit from expedited entry into the United States through automated kiosks at various US airports.
ESTA question relating to parents
- Both parents’ Family Name and Given (First) Name
If this information is unknown, you can use the names of your caregivers, or mark as ‘UNKNOWN’ if you did not have any parents or caregivers.
ESTA questions about your contact information
- Address Line 1
- Address Line 2
- Apartment Number
- Telephone Type
- Telephone Number
- Email Address
Your email address will be used for communications regarding your ESTA application.
Social media ESTA questions (optional)
- Social media identifier
Employment information ESTA question
- Do you have a current or previous employer? If yes, provide the Job Title, Employer Name, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, City, State/Province/Region, Country, Telephone
This information is likely to be referred to by immigration officials at the border to question your intention to leave the US before visa expiry.
ESTA question about travel information
- Is your travel to the US occurring in transit to another country? If yes, provide the information in the next section
US point of contact ESTA question
- Name, Address Line 1, Address Line 2, Apartment Number, City, State, Phone Number
These can be details of an individual contact person, or a hotel or organization relevant for the stay.
ESTA question about US address
- Address Line 1, Address Line 2, Apartment Number, City, State, Phone Number
This may be the same as the previous question for contact person in the US. However, business visitors would usually put the name of their professional contact in the US point of contact section, and their accommodation in the address while in the US section.
ETA question about emergency contact information (in or out of US)
- Family Name, First (Given) Name, Email Address, Telephone
This information is used in the event of a medical emergency where there is no next of kin.
ESTA eligibility questions
- 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.
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?
- Have you ever violated any law related to possessing, using, or distributing illegal drugs?
- Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?
- Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain, a visa or entry into the United States?
- Are you currently seeking employment in the United States or were you previously employed in the United States without prior permission from the U.S. government?
- Have you ever been denied a U.S. visa you applied for with your current or previous passport, or have you ever been refused admission to the United States or withdrawn your application for admission at a U.S. port of entry?
- Have you ever stayed in the United States longer than the admission period granted to you by the U.S. government?
- Have you travelled to, or been present in Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia or Yemen on or after March 1, 2011?
Answering a ‘yes’ to any one of these ESTA eligibility questions will most likely result in an application being denied.
Before you can submit the completed ESTA application form, you will be asked to complete the waiver of rights. This waives any rights to appeal or to review the decision on your ESTA application.
You also have to certify you have understood the questions on the form and answered them truthfully and correctly to the best of their knowledge and belief. Acceptance of this certification is required to submit an ESTA application.
How long does the ESTA decision take?
Decisions are usually fairly instant, although delays can occur during busy periods so you are advised to apply well in advance of travel, at least 72 hours before your date of departure.
What happens if my ESTA application is refused?
There are many reasons why your travel authorization application may be refused. For example, if you have a criminal conviction.
A refused ESTA does not in itself mean you will not be able to gain entry to the US. Depending on your circumstances and the reason for refusal, there may be alternative visa or entry options that you could pursue beyond the VWP.
It may be that you also have to make an application for a waiver of inadmissibility, in addition to the visa application. This can be a complex area, requiring full disclosure to USCIS. Seek professional guidance on your options.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.