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What Happens if You Lie on the ESTA?

Autonomy is becoming increasingly hard to maintain in the digital age. If you did something legally reprehensible in the past and decided to speak about it on social media, it may come back to haunt you now, or even in the future. This is especially true for immigrants attempting to gain access to the United States. Customs officers have started searching the contents of people’s mobile phones and social media apps before allowing them to enter the U.S.

It was in this situation that an immigrant, Isabella Brazier-Jones, found herself when coming to Los Angeles from England. She and her friend were stopped by Customs officials and questioned on their plans upon entry. Not satisfied with Brazier-Jones’ answer, Customs officers searched her person, held her in a cell, and went through her phone until they found a text hinting at previous drug use. With this little evidence and Brazier-Jones’ eventual admittance to doing cocaine in 2017, she was sent straight back to England with a 10 - year ban from entering the United States.

It wasn’t this admittance to drug use alone that sent her back home with a travel ban. When applicants use the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) online Visa, one of the questions asks about previous drug use. Assuming Brazier-Jones answered ‘no’ on her application, finding proof on her phone was a tipoff to Customs officers that she was not entirely truthful; a tipoff that ultimately became the grounds for her ban.

American Immigration Law Office LTD’s own Ioana Hyde was recently interviewed on this subject. She stated, “Lying on the ESTA represents separate grounds of inadmissibility to the USA under the material misrepresentation or fraud provision…If this finding is made, then a person subsequently applying for a visa to the USA may well be denied due to misrepresentation or fraud.”

There is nothing stopping you from lying on the ESTA; however, if you get caught, the repercussions are severe. Before you travel to the U.S., get in touch with an immigration attorney to aid you in the process of gaining entry.

Follow this link to read the full news article featuring Attorney Ioana Hyde.

Contact us online or call us at (440) 208-6112 for legal guidance.