User is unable to prevent some of the time entries on a project from getting auto-approved even though the project rule Auto approve time entries is not active.
This can happen if auto-approval is set at the employee level. Core has the option to set up auto-approval at the project as well as the employee level. Even if the project rule is not active, the option Auto approve time in the Employees > General > Rates & Options screen can auto-approve the time of the employees. So you need to un-check this option as well to prevent the auto-approval. Check out this article to know more: Setting up auto-approval for time and expenses.