US Visas: Five Potential Disqualifications You May Not Consider

Whether you are applying for a travel visa or you are applying for a Visa Waiver through ESTA, it’s important that you fully understand the potential risks you are taking. The ESTA system helps to enable people from pre-approved countries all across the Earth in applying for a tourist visa waiver; this can allow them to enter the country without the lengthy process associated with a regular visa.

Unfortunately, many people misunderstand the Visa Waiver Program and its true purpose. It’s easy to think that the program is easier than applying for a full visa, but the VWP isn’t appropriate in all instances. If you are doing business, or are engaging in some form of work while in the United States, you don’t qualify for a waiver. The following more unusual disqualifications can also result in refusal of entry.


You Refused Custody of Your Child

It’s difficult to see how this applies, but it’s the truth; if you’ve refused to share custody of a child that you had with a U.S. citizen, you won’t qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. This can be tricky if parents have decided to decline custody for the good of the child because they live in another country, but is done to reduce the risk of kidnappings and parental abduction.

You Committed a Crime, but Received Immunity for Testifying

Even if you were granted full immunity in your home country, it doesn’t qualify for the Visa Waiver Program. If you were granted criminal immunity in order to encourage you to testify, you must apply for a full visa. This may also extend to court cases where the case was concluded with a “not guilty” verdict.

You are a Drug Abuser, Mentally Ill, or You Have a Communicable Disease

This disqualification category has come under intense fire in recent years. Attention was first drawn to the policy when a woman from Toronto, Canada, was banned from entering the USA based on a previous hospitalisation for clinical depression. A separate incident involving celebrity chef and journalist Nigella Lawson, who was refused entry on a Visa Waiver after admitting to drug use during a court case. Individuals with tuberculosis, and until recent changes were made, HIV, are also barred entry.

An Outing Could be Construed as Research

If you were planning to swim with dolphins, or go on guided deep sea diving tours, you may want to verify that your Visa Waiver is appropriate for your excursion. Research doesn’t fall under the Visa Waiver, and certain guided tours may be considered research. This includes any archaeological digs and even one-day courses while in the United States.