State Dept. Cautions Waiver Travelers To Disclose Visa Delays as Denials
The Department of State has taken the position that those who have applied for a visa that cannot be granted due to a need for further security clearances, or additional documents or information, have been effectively “denied” a visa and must disclose this when completing their ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application should they later wish to use the Visa Waiver Program as a visitor while their visa application remains pending. The Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers warns that this situation can be confusing because the applicants may have been told simply that their applications require further processing rather than that they have been denied, but then they may be refused admission later for misrepresentation if they do not disclose the denial. Such travelers are advised to indicate that they have been refused a visa under INA § 221(g) when completing their ESTA registrations. Those who have completed an ESTA registration without revealing the denial are advised to re-register and indicate the specifics. This is a fluid situation, and the Department’s position is controversial. Consult your immigration attorney for more specific guidance in particular cases.
The new Department of State position was made in consultation with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which announced it to the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s (AILA) CBP liaison committee. A public announcement by CBP is awaited.