Esta Visa Nightmare for United Kingdom Student and Family

A student has spoken out after US security services labelled him as being high risk, preventing him from joining his family on a dream trip to the United States.

Ismail Hussein, a student at the University of Bradford, was due to join his family on a trip to California that was costing £8000.  However, these hopes were shattered when the family discovered that their tourist visas had been cancelled just hours before they were supposed to leave.  The US security services have labelled the family high risk, but the Husseins have still not received an explanation as to why this is the case.

Mr Hussein has been left wondering if they consider him to be a terrorist or to be involved in serious crime as no explanation has been forthcoming.  Mr Hussein is just 21 and studying civil and structural engineering.  He was due to travel to the US with his parents, brother and sister.

On reaching the check-in desk at Heathrow the Husseins were told that only the youngest member of the family, 12-year-old brother Shuhaib, still had an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) in place.  All other members of the family had had theirs cancelled by the US authorities.  The ESTA is a document that gives tourists permission to travel to the US on a short-term visit.

Despite attempts by the family to talk to immigration officials both at the airport and at London’s US Embassy, no explanation was given for the cancellation of the ESTAs.  The Husseins were simply informed that they had been categorised as ‘high risk’.  However, Mr Hussein is questioning why they have not been arrested if they are considered to be high risk and has pointed out that what should have been a dream holiday has now been turned into a nightmare.  The planning for the trip had been taking place for months.

American Visa
American Visa

The family has also invited the US authorities to carry out additional checks, as they have nothing to hide, with Mr Hussein stating that extra checks should be in place if the authorities have concerns.  The application for the ESTAs had been completed by the family, who live in Hendon in London, in July.  Upon application they were told that they had been successful.

Sites like ESTA FastTrack offer information and advice about Esta Visas and the Visa Waiver Programme offered by the US.

The planned itinerary for the trip had included visits to Universal Studios and many other popular tourist attractions in California.  Mr Hussein has said that he believes many other Muslims who want to visit the US are facing similar problems and experiences.

Having been refused permission to travel to the US, the family were able to arrange a last-minute holiday in Thailand.  The US Department of Homeland Security has sent the family an email in response to their complaint in which they are told that their frustration is understandable but that the system is able to cancel an ESTA at any time.

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