Security questions in the ESTA application

Security questions in the ESTA application

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) supports US homeland security and facilitates travel for international visitors. However, the questions asked on the application are not easy for some travelers. Learn about the ESTA security questions and how to answer them.


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Travel safely to the USA with ESTA

ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) is an automated system that determines whether travelers may enter the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). It is used to identify individuals who may pose a potential security or law enforcement threat.

As a result, ESTA plays a critical role in US security. In addition to presenting their biometric passport, ESTA applicants must answer a series of security questions that require information about:

  • physical and mental health
  • previous arrests or convictions
  • involvement in or efforts to engage in criminal activity
  • previous violations of US immigration law
  • previous visa denials or entry refusals

What are the ESTA security questions?

After entering your personal information on the ESTA form and answering questions about your family, employer, and travel history, you will be directed to the ESTA security questions section.

You must answer the following questions truthfully and completely in order to travel to the United States with ESTA:

Do you have a physical or mental disorder; or are you a drug abuser or addict; or do you currently have any of the following diseases (communicable diseases are specified pursuant to section 361(b) of the Public Health Service Act) :* Cholera, Diphtheria, Tuberculosis, infectious, Plague, Smallpox, Yellow Fever, Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers, including Ebola, Lassa, Marburg, Crimean-Congo, Severe acute respiratory illnesses capable of transmission to other persons and likely to cause mortality.

The purpose of this question is to ensure public health and safety by identifying individuals who have potentially dangerous diseases or drug problems. The flu and colds are no reasons for ESTA denials. This question is only about serious, contagious diseases.

Have you ever been arrested or convicted for a crime that resulted in serious damage to property, or serious harm to another person or government authority?

These crimes usually involve a court hearing and possible jail time. Traffic offenses such as speeding or parking do not fall into this category. However, if you have been arrested or convicted of a more serious traffic offense (for example, drunk driving resulting in an accident causing serious injury or substantial property damage), this would be relevant.

Have you ever committed any offenses related to the possession, use, or distribution of illegal drugs?

This question on the ESTA form refers to the physical possession of any substance that is illegal under US law. This can range from cannabis to cocaine to heroin and other controlled substances, regardless of the amount or purpose of possession.

Do you seek to engage in or have you ever engaged in terrorist activities, espionage, sabotage, or genocide?

Terrorist activities are acts intended to achieve political, ideological, or religious objectives through violence or intimidation against civilians or government institutions, and include bombings, kidnappings, hostage-taking, cyberterrorism, and other acts of violence.

Espionage includes, for example, the collection, transmission, or publication of confidential or secret information, typically related to national security, without the authorization of the government concerned.

Sabotage includes deliberate acts intended to damage, disrupt, or destroy facilities, equipment, or systems, particularly those important to national security, public safety, or the economy. It may include both physical acts of destruction and digital attacks on computer systems.

Genocide refers to acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group. It includes killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction, and taking measures to prevent births within the group.

Have you ever committed fraud or misrepresented yourself or others to obtain, or assist others to obtain, a visa or entry into the United States?

In the context of the ESTA regulations, this question includes any deceptive or dishonest act committed with the intent to unlawfully obtain a visa or authorization to enter the United States. This includes actions such as falsifying documents, misrepresenting facts, or concealing relevant information in order to obtain authorization.

It also includes soliciting, aiding, or abetting another person to commit fraud or misrepresentation in order to obtain a US visa or admission.

Are you currently seeking employment in the United States or were you previously employed in the United States without prior permission from the US government?

This question is designed to ensure that ESTA travelers do not intend to work illegally.

Here are some of the main activities permitted with ESTA:

  • Tourism: sightseeing, vacationing, visiting family and friends
  • Business purposes: attending business meetings, conferences, seminars, or negotiations
  • Transit: ESTA is also required for travelers simply transiting through the US to reach another country.
  • Short-term educational programs: attending classes (e.g., language courses)
  • Medical treatments in the USA

Prohibited activities with ESTA:

  • Any form of employment or work (this includes both paid and unpaid work)
  • Long-term study programs leading to a degree or academic credit
  • Permanent residence in the USA (ESTA is only valid for 90 days at a time)

Have you ever been denied a US visa you applied for with your current or previous passport, or have you ever been refused admission to the United States or withdrawn your application for admission at a US port of entry?

This refers to situations where an applicant has applied for a visa to the United States but has been denied by a US consulate or embassy.

It also refers to situations where a traveler has been denied entry into the United States at the border or at a port of entry (such as an airport).

Denial of entry can occur for a variety of reasons, including security concerns, insufficient travel documents, or immigration violations.

Have you ever stayed in the United States longer than the admission period granted to you by the US government?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP), of which ESTA is a part, allows travelers to stay in the US without a visa for up to 90 days. Exceeding the authorized length of stay may result in problems with future visa or ESTA applications and may even result in a travel ban.

Answering ESTA security questions

We strongly advise you not to lie or conceal anything when answering the security questions on the ESTA application. False statements can lead to criminal prosecution and permanent entry bans.

If you do not qualify for the ESTA process, better apply for a US visa rather than risk the harsh consequences of making false statements on the ESTA application. However, when filling out the ESTA application, it is not only important to be truthful but also accurate. Stick to the following rules:

  • Read each question carefully and make sure you fully understand it before you answer.
  • Ensure your answers are accurate and consistent with the information in your passport.
  • Do not omit any required information. Incomplete answers can lead to delays or rejections.
  • Double-check your answers before submitting the application.

If you have any questions when completing your ESTA application, get help from the USA experts at, use the ESTA completion guide or the service of the experienced team of consultants who will guide you to an error-free ESTA application.

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