Scottish Grandfather Banned From Traveling To U.S. After Accidentally Checking ‘Terrorist’ Box On Visa Form

The Statue of Liberty with a "declined" stamp on it
TayebMEZAHDIA and Ronile / Pixabay

A Scottish grandfather mistakenly branded himself as a terrorist and has now been banned from the U.S.

John Stevenson and his wife Marion planned a trip to New York City, per Independent. Although the couple had been to the city before, they wanted to see the lights this time around. They also thought that this could be the last time that they could take the trip since they are not getting any younger.

The couple who hail from Greenock, Scotland, had already forked out more than £2,000 for flights and accommodation when disaster struck: Mr. Stevenson’s visa had been refused. John, a taxi driver, said that his wife is sick about it.

John Stevenson’s error is costing him and his wife a long-awaited vacation, and all he did was to tick the wrong box. The trouble started when he tried to fill out an online form on the Electronic System For Travel Authorization (ESTA). The application would allow him to travel to the U.S. without a visa.

“We were filling out the visa form and it kept timing out before we could tick all the boxes.

“Then it crashed and when it came back up, you start where you finish off.

“One of the questions ask if you are a terrorist and it must have jumped from No to Yes without me knowing.”

The 70-year-old now fears that due to a mistake, he will never be allowed into the U.S again. He has since tried to contact authorities to try to rectify the error, but his attempts have been unsuccessful.

“I even called border control in the US and gave them my passport details.”

“They looked up my Esta number and said ‘you’re a terrorist’. I told them that I was 70 years old and I don’t even recognize what that means.”

Greenock Telegraph reports that the Scottish grandfather is devastated. He said that Marion’s visa had been approved, but he had been refused because of the mistake. Mr. Stevenson said that he has never been in trouble in his life and that the only time he has been inside a courtroom was when he had jury service.

The couple was supposed to leave for their holiday on December 3 on a United Airlines flight, but they cannot even reschedule because of Mr. Stevenson’s terrorist status. They have been advised to contact the U.S. embassy in London and arrange a $100 appointment. At the embassy, he will be interviewed by officials.

Mr. Stevenson opined that he doesn’t know why that question is on the form in the first place.