During a short trip, you may find yourself stopping in the United States. In this case, even in transit, you should be aware that even travellers in transit must have a valid permit to walk on American soil. Even if you only stay for a few hours in the USA, you will still need to apply for ESTA approval.
American law requires that every passenger stopping on American soil must pass through the immigration post, pick up their luggage and then pass through customs. Once this is done, they will be able to transit to their next flight, so whether or not you are transiting through the U. S., you will go through the same security and immigration checks.
As a result, the immigration officer who will be controlling you at the airport has no idea of your intention to stay on U. S. soil or to make a simple transit. You will then need an ESTA form. In conclusion, even for a simple transit, the ESTA authorisation is compulsory.
This situation is more complicated. If ESTA has already been refused, then you will not like the answer. Even for a simple transit of a few hours, you will need to apply for a VISA from the U. S. Embassy. This is indeed very restrictive, but this step is mandatory if you do not want trouble with American immigration.
The appropriate VISA for a transit is VISA B2. For this VISA, you will need to demonstrate your intention to return to your country of origin. A single transit air ticket is unlikely to be enough. We advise you to bring various proofs such as your salary slips, rent receipts, title deeds, etc. to the embassy during your interview.
The alternative would be to avoid passing through the US, but some areas are difficult to reach without passing through the US.
Obtaining an ESTA for a simple transit does not change anything, because you must be a citizen of a country participating in the ESTA programme, your passport must be valid, etc. If you are travelling with your pet, there are also some rules to follow. We advise you to print your authorization prior to departure. Normally, the immigration officer will be able to retrieve your application in the computerized system, but it is best not to take any risks.