Many people get the ESTA approval, but are denied entry.
You can take your chances, or apply for a B-1/B-2 and be more comfortable on arrival.
The decision is yours.
PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship. Also, keep in mind that this is an INTERNET BLOG. You should not rely on anything you read here to make decisions which impact on your life. Meet with an attorney, via Skype, or in person, to obtain competent personal and professional guidance.
That is your decision to make, and you'll have to live with its consequences. Just like the Professore recounted, I too happened to have heard of a few instances when individuals like yourself boarded flights to the U.S. on their ESTA certifications, only to be intercepted by CBP upon landing and being sent back (after spending some 17 hours on CBP's hospitality at some special quarters of the airport, with no food or water during that time, allowed to go "toilet" only twice) By the same token, I've also heard of others that had much worse denials than yours, but who were allowed back in with their ESTAs as if nothing... Which statistic will you fill? That's the question. (Am sure you'll be back soon to tell us how it went.)
BTW if you decide to be bold and adventuresome, DO NOT present anything to CBP, unless challenged or specifically asked. (Keep everything out of sight in your closed bag.)
Kindly be advised that the answer above is only general in nature cannot be construed as legal advice, given that not enough facts are known. It is your responsibility to retain a lawyer to analyze the facts specific to your particular situation in order to give you specific advice. Specific answers will require cognizance of all pertinent facts about your case. Any answers offered on Avvo are of a general nature only, and are not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.
Do not duplicate your postings. Read the issued opinion.
DISCLAIMER The answer given above by the lawyer serves for educational purposes only and provides general information and a basic understanding of the applicable law. Take notice that the answer above does not create an attorney-client relationship as this website is not intended to provide anyone a specific legal advice. Anyone using the site expressly consents that there is no attorney client privilege between any person and any attorney responding. Further take notice that the site should not be used as a crude substitute for any professional and competent legal advice by a licensed professional attorney in the applicable jurisdiction. The attorney above attempted to provide competent professional opinion, however, the law and its applications may change frequently and vary greatly from other U.S. jurisdictions and locales. Therefore, any information and opinions stated above are general in nature, and may not apply to specific factual or legal circumstances related to one's current legal issues. Contact an experienced lawyer admitted to practice in your State under an attorney-client privilege to further receive a comprehensive legal before making an educated decision about your particular legal issue. Respectfully, Attorney Alexander Ivakhnenko, Chicago, Illinois
Different Visa Waiver Countries have varying degrees of successful admission rates to the U.S.
Which country are you from?
If you have time to wait for a request for a B-2 Visa to be processed before the seminars then it sounds like you are a strong candidate for a B-2. This application requires a description of your plans and travel itinerary and can be valid for up to 6 months. The receipts from the business seminars as well as letters from your friends can be submitted as strong support.
Please advise if I can be of further assistance.