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Last minute ESTA status change

London, United...
posts: 48
reviews: 3
Last minute ESTA status change

Hi everyone,

My family and I were due to leave London Heathrow to visit LA. Our flight was on 25/08/13. We submitted our ESTA applications over a month ago, these were all approved within 30 minutes!However, when we tried to check-in at the airport (after being unable to online) we were told that mine and my eldest son had a sudden ESTA status change and that now it had been denied! With my wife, daughter and youngest son still being in approval, and able to travel.

We were given absolutely no reason for this and the check-in clerk tried to help by contacting the immigration officer, but the officer told him that we were unable to travel now at all unless we got a VISA. Also he refused to speak to me, or justify the sudden authorization change in the ESTA. On top of that, soon after my wife a daugther's ESTAs were also changed to also being denied.

Obviously because of this, we missed our flight (we would have landed about now) as we were not allowed to travel, and our holiday is ruined. Losing out on nearly £7000 since it is non-refundable, and we can't change dates on hotels. United offered to change our flight to Wednesday 28th, so we still get part of our holiday, but it is unlikely we will get a VISA sorted by then, as this takes 5 days to process, and they are closed over bank holiday weekend, only opening on Tuesday 26th (even here, we do not have a appointment, so still do not guarantee being seen).I have submitted the DHS forms online for appealing ESTA decisions, but again I doubt this will be sorted by Wednesday, our last chance of a holiday. I have also asked the question on the ESTA website, however last time I did this a few years back they replied a year later! Still not answering my question!I just wanted to ask if anyone else has been in a similar situation? I couldn't find anything online about ESTA statuses changing, just that a CBP officer can deny us entry after approval. This naturally seemed unlikely to us, as we have no reason to be denied, and was even more of a shock, as my daughter, eldest son and I have previously visited the USA.Also does anyone know how long the DHS take to reply? Or if anything on the VISA with the embassy can be sorted ASAP?!My family and I are absolutely gutted, and see no reason as to why we would be denied entry. Or why they waited till the last minute to change their minds! I can only see this as a form of discrimination, as no reason was provided.I hope anyone can share any similar experiences, or suggestions to help.

Thanks!

Elk Rapids, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Lanai
posts: 8,744
reviews: 39
1. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Rather than do all this online why don't you find a phone number and talk to someone direct?

Luton, United...
posts: 996
reviews: 18
2. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Sorry for you and your family. I sincerely hope you had travel insurance!

newcastle upon tyne
posts: 5,814
reviews: 124
3. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

It does seem ridiculous, you have no idea why your ESTA status may have changed ?..

Hope you can get it sorted out

United Kingdom
posts: 2,900
reviews: 53
4. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Sorry to hear of your difficulties, but why do you think this is "discrimination"?

To Vegasfan, I don't know of any UK available travel insurance that will reimburse expenses lost due to being denied entry to another country. If you know of a company, please let us know the details as it may be useful to others in the same situation as the OP

Frankfurt, Germany
posts: 1,163
reviews: 3
5. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

#1: I understand that it is not exactly easy to get somebody responsible for "ESTA" on the phone.

I am so sorry for you guys, that's terrible. Have you tried calling the embassy in London? Explain your situation and maybe you can arrange an emergency appointment. If your visas are approved directly you might be able to get them in just a couple of days. (You need a B-2 Visa) But I'm afraid I don't really see a way how you'd get your visas in your passports by Wednesday.

Also I would try to call United again, explain them your situation very detailed, tell them you understand that you have a non-refundable fare but you'd really appreciate if you could possibly change the flight to a later time. And hope for the airline's goodwill. Maybe they can do something for you.

I really hope that you find a solution and/or get a reply from DHS soon. Can't imagine how you must feel.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 27,976
6. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Go to the flyertalk security forum and ask there

They are used to the insanities of the US 'security' apparatus

Liverpool, UK
posts: 12,070
reviews: 23
7. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Vey strange to be approved and subsequently denied at the last minute - hope you get it resolved, please keep us updated on reasons for status change so we can advise other passengers.

UK
posts: 2,648
reviews: 26
8. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

"Rather than do all this online why don't you find a phone number and talk to someone direct?

Have you ever tried getting hold of a human being at the US Embassy?

Plus, today is a public holiday here in the UK so they're not going to be there in any event.

Elk Rapids, Michigan
Destination Expert
for Lanai
posts: 8,744
reviews: 39
9. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

No I never had to get a hold of anyone I just know many web requests to the government are a waste of time. It was just a thought.

Bingley, United...
Destination Expert
for Edinburgh
posts: 27,976
10. Re: Last minute ESTA status change

Have you and your son ever done anything that can be called "moral turpitude"?

Have you and your son ever been arrested?

Have you and your son criticised US policy?

Are you and your son intending spending more than 90 days in the US or contiguous territories?

Have you and your son changed passports?

Have you and your son communicable diseases?

Have you and your son ever been denied entry to a country?

Have you and your son ever overstayed in a country?

There are zillions of reasons why your own actions could lead to a revocation and that's before you get the paranoia of US security that thinks that as someone called "M I" is possibly a terrorist then "M H" has to be treated as a terrorist also