Reasons Your USA Visa Might Be Denied

Traveling to the United States as a New Zealander can be an exhilarating prospect, whether you long to catch a Broadway show in NYC, marvel at the star-studded skies over the Grand Canyon, or explore the innovative spirit of Silicon Valley. However, before you can begin your American adventure, it is essential to understand the visa process, specifically for New Zealanders, who generally use the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

While this process is streamlined and user-friendly, there are certain circumstances under which an ESTA, and by extension, a US visa, might be denied. Let’s discuss these reasons and how you can mitigate potential issues for a seamless travel experience to the United States.

Understanding ESTA Denials for New Zealanders

The ESTA serves as a pre-approval for visitors from VWP countries, such as New Zealand, to travel to the US for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Denials can happen, and they usually stem from a few common issues that can be avoided with proper preparation.

Common Reasons for Denials

  • Passport Issues: It’s essential to ensure your passport is an e-Passport with a digital chip containing biometric information. If your passport doesn’t meet these criteria, or if it’s expired, your ESTA will likely be refused.
  • Security Concerns: If you have a criminal history involving serious crimes or if there are security concerns associated with your background, your application may be denied.
  • Overstayed Previous Visits: If you’ve previously traveled to the US and exceeded the allowed time on your visa or ESTA, this will adversely affect your new application.
  • Travel to Restricted Countries: Travel history that includes certain countries after March 1, 2011, can lead to a denial under the VWP.
  • Incomplete or False Information on Application: Discrepancies or false information found on your ESTA application can result in denial.

How to Avoid Denials

To minimize the chances of a visa denial, New Zealanders should take the following steps:

  • Maintain a Valid E-Passport: Keep your passport updated and ensure it meets the e-Passport requirements.
  • Review Past Criminal Convictions: Some minor crimes may not affect your ESTA application, but it’s best to consult an immigration professional.
  • Be Honest on Your Application: Provide accurate and truthful information on your application form.
  • Understand the Visa Waiver Program: Read up on VWP requirements and ensure you’re eligible before applying.

Other Considerations

If your ESTA application is denied, it might not mean the end of your travel plans. You can apply for a traditional non-immigrant visa through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. If you require the visa urgently, consider using expedited services offered by visa processing agencies.

Applying for an ESTA as a New Zealander

For New Zealanders seeking to apply for an ESTA, the process is as simple as:

  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 authorization and that’s it, you’re ready to go!

If you need your ESTA in a hurry, you can choose from our two expedited processing options. Simply select your add-on at checkout.

FAQs about US Visa Denial for New Zealanders

Q: What do I do if my ESTA is denied?
A: You may apply for a US visitor visa through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Q: Can I appeal an ESTA denial?
A: There is no formal appeal process for an ESTA denial, but alternative visa pathways may be available.

Q: Will I be informed why my ESTA was denied?
A: Generally, you will be provided with a reason for the denial, though it may sometimes be generic.

Q: Can a past visa denial affect my current ESTA application?
A: Yes, past visa or ESTA denials can influence your current application.

Q: If my ESTA is denied, how soon can I reapply?
A: You can reapply anytime, but ensure that the circumstances that led to the initial denial have changed.


As a New Zealander, acquiring travel authorization to the US can usually be accomplished with minimal fuss. By understanding and addressing the common reasons for ESTA or visa denials, you boost your chances for approval, paving the way for an incredible journey to the United States. If you’re preparing to apply or reapply after a denial, remember, thoroughness and honesty on your application are your greatest allies.

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