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Beware of ESTA Scams
June 9, 2023

Beware of ESTA Scams

Visa applicants are advised to be cautious in all dealings with companies that claim to offer assistance in obtaining U.S. visas.  There are many websites and e-mail scams which attempt to mislead customers and members of the public into thinking they are official U.S. government websites.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is designed for those seeking to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program.  The ESTA application fee is $21.  Please note that there is only one official ESTA website and that is:


Third-party companies who charge a fee to assist travelers to apply for ESTA are NOT operating on behalf of the U.S. government.

Visa Waiver Program travelers who are looking for information on how to apply for ESTA should be aware that unauthorized third-parties have established websites that charge a fee to provide information about ESTA and to submit ESTA applications on behalf of VWP travelers. These businesses and websites are not endorsed by, associated with, or affiliated in any way with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the U.S. government, or AIT.  These websites are designed to appear legitimate, and though deceptive, they operate legally.

For more information regarding the Electronic System for Travel Authorization, please visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) website at: www.cbp.gov/esta 

If you have used one of these third-party sites, we strongly suggest you use your ESTA application number to confirm the application with the official U.S. Government site to ensure that your application information is correct in the system, and to avoid delays when you arrive in the United States.

CBP cannot refund the money paid to a third-party website, nor can AIT. CBP and AIT are not responsible for any third party fees.

Unfortunately, AIT is not able to provide details about ESTA denials or resolve the issue that caused the ESTA denial.  If an ESTA clearance was not granted, a U.S. visa is required to travel to the United States.  Additionally, an ESTA refusal does not necessarily qualify you for an emergency visa appointment at AIT.