Also, this might sound obvious but TAKE THIS INFORMATION WITH A PINCH OF SALT. As CheersTerry and others have helpfully pointed out before, NOTHING is certain, especially when dealing with US immigration. Having this information is good news, of course, but take it as advice rather than completely depend on it. May the odds be ever in your (our, really) favour.
Bullseye, and thanks for repeating it once again. I'm swamped with PMs wanting guarantees regarding their particular situation. Grow up, people...
One last thing - I've read on other forums about ESTA rejections that if your name is common or is unlucky enough to be shared with someone on a US no-fly or wanted list, your ESTA will be rejected. One traveller called 'James Smith' called up ESTA to ask why it was rejected, and apparently the officer told him that it was very likely that there was someone also called James Smith on a wanted list. So...if your name happens to be James Smith.....
That used to be a big issue - mistakes were made all the time - but US CBP and Homeland Security has a pretty good handle on the situation now. It's very rare for that screw-up to happen now.
Hey Cheers T, I was wondering whether you know if the No fly list and the Terrorist Watchlist only contain info on terrorists or does it also include people convicted or arrested for other offences? They seem to be shrouded in mystery...
It depends - if you're disruptive on a plane you can be banned from a particular airline.
In most cases you're only on a no fly list if you're wanted for serious crimes or you're suspected of terrorism.
I know a girl whose dating someone who was arrested for terrorism (what a catch...), he was found not guilty but is still banned from ever visiting the states.
Just so everyone is aware, the rules on travel to the US are likely to change very soon:
Washington (CNN)—House Republicans unveiled a bipartisan bill on Thursday (December 3, 2015) that overhauls a program that allows people to travel to the United States without a visa in response to the terror attacks by ISIS in Paris last month.
House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul of Texas noted that his panel found there are 30,000 foreign fighters from 100 different countries, and that 5,000 of those had Western passports and had traveled to Iraq or Syria.
Some of the Paris attackers held Western passports and "could have entered the United States without a visa," he said.
"That's why this legislation is so important," McCaul said. "It will strengthen the visa waiver program, not abolish it."
The current program, in which 38 countries participate with the U.S., is designed to encourage tourism, and permits those to travel back and forth for limited visits. But some worry it could be exploited by those plotting attacks.
The legislation requires that nationals from Iraq, Syria, Iran or the Sudan, or those who've visited those countries since 2011, not get a waiver to travel to the United States without a visa.
Instead individuals from designated countries will have to be vetted through a more rigorous process. It requires those countries who participate in the visa waiver program to share counterterrorism information. If they don't it empowers the Department of Homeland Security to eliminate any country from the program.
The proposal also enhances screening, requiring individuals be checked against INTERPOL databases and determine if any record of an individual is being looked at for criminal activity. It beefs up efforts to detect passport fraud involving electronic documents.
This latest proposal came out of the House GOP's terrorism task force, but this one is likely to get the backing of the White House.
Last month, the House passed a bill requiring that the Secretary of Homeland Security certify any refugees from Syria and Iraq don't pose any security risk. President Barack Obama and many Democrats criticized the bill as unfairly targeting those fleeing war, and Senate Democrats have vowed to block it.
The House will vote on the bill on Tuesday (December 8, 2015) and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy predicted it would garner a large bipartisan vote. But given the time crunch before the end of the year, some are already pushing to add the measure to the must-pass spending bill Congress needs to approve by the end of next week (December 11, 2015).
McCarthy didn't rule out attaching the visa waiver bill, saying, "I want this bill to become law -- any avenue for it to become law as fast as possible we'll take."