Reasons for United States Visa Denial and How Japanese Citizens Can Avoid Them

Traveling to the United States is a dream for many individuals worldwide, offering an array of experiences, from the bustling streets of New York City to the serene landscapes of the Grand Canyon. For Japanese citizens wishing to visit the US, visa denials can be an unexpected hurdle in an otherwise exciting journey. Understanding the reasons behind visa refusals is crucial for applicants to enhance their chances of approval in future applications.

The United States offers the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), allowing citizens of participating countries, like Japan, to travel to the US for tourism, business, transit, or medical purposes without a visa for up to 90 days. Despite the simplified process, there are instances when an ESTA application might be denied, leaving many Japanese applicants in search of answers.

Common Reasons for US Visa or ESTA Denial for Japanese Citizens

Mistakes in the Application

  • Inaccurate or Incomplete Information: Submitting an application with errors or missing details can lead to an immediate denial. It’s imperative to double-check all the data entered against your travel documents for consistency and accuracy.
  • Passport Validity: A passport that does not meet the US requirements – including at least six months of validity beyond your period of stay in the United States – can result in rejection.

Eligibility Issues

  • Previous Overstays or Visa Violations: Having overstayed a visa or violated visa conditions on a prior visit to the US is a common cause for future ESTA denial.
  • Criminal History: A past criminal record may make a Japanese applicant ineligible for an ESTA. Certain crimes, especially those involving moral turpitude, can spell an outright denial.
  • Security Concerns: If an applicant is suspected of posing a security threat or has traveled to areas of concern for US foreign policy, they may face denial.

Documentation Deficiencies

  • Insufficient Proof of Return: Applicants must convince the authorities that they intend to leave the US after their temporary stay. Lack of strong ties to Japan can be a determining factor in a refusal.
  • Health-Related Issues: Certain communicable diseases or lack of required vaccinations can result in a denied ESTA.

Improving the Chances of Approval

To mitigate the risk of denial, Japanese citizens should:

  • Thoroughly review the ESTA application form, ensuring all information is complete and accurate.
  • Check that their passport is valid and will remain so for at least six months beyond their intended stay in the US.
  • Provide clear evidence of their intent to leave the US after their visit, such as a job, family, or property in Japan.
  • Disclose any previous encounters with US immigration or law enforcement upfront in their application.

If you’ve had an ESTA application denied, it is possible to reapply if your circumstances have changed or if you believe the denial was based on incorrect information. However, if the reasons for the denial persist, you may consider applying for a visa instead, where you have an opportunity to provide more detailed information and context during an interview at a US embassy or consulate.

Steps for Applying for an ESTA

For Japanese citizens who meet the eligibility requirements, obtaining an ESTA involves a straightforward process:

  1. Fill out our easy-to-use online application form. The application takes about 10 minutes. Make sure to have your passport handy.
  2. Submit & Pay for your application. We accept all payment types. PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay & Credit Card.
  3. Get your ESTA emailed to you within 72hrs. We’ll email you your approved travel authorisation and that’s it, you’re ready to go!

For those requiring expedited processing of their ESTA, additional options are available at checkout.


Can you reapply for an ESTA after being denied?

Yes, you can reapply for an ESTA if your situation has changed, or if the previous denial was based on incorrect information. However, the previous reasons for denial need to be addressed or resolved before reapplying.

If an ESTA application is denied, can a Japanese citizen apply for a visa instead?

Yes, if an ESTA is denied, a Japanese citizen may apply for a visa through the US embassy or consulate, which allows for a more thorough review process that includes a personal interview.

How long does a denied ESTA affect future travel?

An ESTA denial can affect future travel to the US indefinitely, depending on the reasons for the denial. It is crucial to either rectify the issues that led to the denial or consider applying for a visa.

Do I need to mention a denied ESTA on future travel applications?

Yes, it is important to mention a previously denied ESTA when applying for future US travel authorizations or visas, as failure to disclose such information can be considered fraudulent.

Travel to the United States should be an enriching and uncomplicated experience. By understanding and addressing the common reasons for visa denial, Japanese applicants can better prepare themselves for their journey across the Pacific. Our team is here to assist you through the entire process, ensuring a smooth pathway to obtaining your ESTA or visa for the US.


Navigating visa requirements can seem daunting, but with the accurate knowledge and proper preparation, Japanese citizens can look forward to a positive outcome. Whether applying for an ESTA or a visa, it’s essential to approach the process diligently, with an awareness of the common pitfalls that might lead to a denial. Safe travels, and we look forward to assisting you on your journey to the United States.

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