Re-entry into USA under visa waiver programme
Replies: 29 - Last Post: Jun 30, 2013 12:53 AM Last Post By: aubo23
May 26, 2008 5:48 AM
Re-entry into USA under visa waiver programmeHello!
We hope someone can help. My partner and I (we are both British Citizens) are planning on travelling to Canada and USA next year.
Our plans so far are:
Travel to Canada in April 2009 (we understand we don't need a visa for Canada and USA)
We want to drive the Yukon and pass into Alaska in May, we will be in Alaska for only a few days. We are assuming we will use the visa waiver programme for this.
We then want to travel the rest of Canada until October (giving us our full 6 months allowance for Canada) and go into America after that.
Our question is - upon trying to re-enter America in October we will be issued with the full 3 months allowance under the visa waiver programme as the original will have expired in July?
Thanks in advance for your help!
Vicky and Ian
May 26, 2008 6:08 AM
1This is one of the most frequently asked questions on Lonely Planet, and the answer is VERY straitforward.
When you enter the U.S. on a visa waiver, the "clock" starts ticking on the day you first enter ANYWHERE in the USA -- this includes Alaska. Your visa waiver ends ninety days (not three months) after that first day. Leaving the U.S. and going to Canada does NOT restart the "clock." If you enter the U.S. in May, and then spend more than ninety days in Canada, you will NOT be able to re-enter the U.S. as part of your visa waiver visit.
You will either have to forego a visit to Alaska or get a visa.
May 26, 2008 7:22 AM
2This is one of the most frequently asked questions on Lonely Planet, and the answer is VERY straightforward.
The first point is correct -- this question must get posted a few times per week. But the second part is not -- it's not all that straightforward.
By the letter of the law, #1 is correct -- the US counts time spent in North America, not just the US, as part of the 90 day visa waiver. But from I've read on this website and what I've heard elsewhere, it doesn't seem to rigorously enforced IF you make sure to turn in your I-94 (landing card) whenever you depart the US.
In other words, when leaving Alaska to reenter Canada, make sure that you give your landing card to US authorities (or give it to the Canadians if you can be sure that they'll pass it back to the Americans for you.) This will record that you left the US within a short period of time.
When you reenter the US at the later date, customs has the discretion to issue another visa waiver. Following the letter of the law, they shouldn't, but it seems to happen.
If you want to avoid any risks associated with this, then you'll need to get a visa. But that has its own set of risks and hassles associated with it.
On another note, I'd do some research on your timing for travel into the Yukon and Alaska. I've not done it myself, but you might wish to rearrange your itinerary to travel there during the summer. Also, make sure that you have the proper vehicle for it.
May 26, 2008 8:12 AM
3Road Warrior is right--it is not straightforward. The whole idea is to prevent people from making a "border run" to get a new waiver. I have seen reports of people who have gotten a new waiver after spending time in Canada alone, but it is indeed at the discretion of the border official. Your 6 months in Canada would give you a better chance than, say 24 hours in Vancouver, but I wouldn't count on it. If you want to try it, you should be absolutely sure to turn in your immigration forms when leaving Alaska so that you are in the computer as having left the US.
If you want ot be flexible, you can apply for a US visa while in Canada; you don't have to do it in the UK. But you will need to be sure you have all the proper documentation that proves that you have "strong ties" to the UK that will compel your return.
If you want to spend more than 90 days in the US after leaving Canada, you would need a visa in any case. One option would be to go to Alaska at the end, rather than the beginning of the trip, but October is not necessarily the best month for Alaska either. Do a search on this branch for Alaska posts if you want to get a better idea of weather & climate. Or post your own thread about that here. I'm not familiar with Alaska myself, but there are lots of posts about it. I just dabbled a bit & found recommendations that May is not a good time, but late summer is.
The search engine on thorntree is pretty powerful if you know how to use it. Use the "advanced search" and limit your posts to the US branch, unless you are looking for information about the border crossing, in which case you might want to also check the Canada branch. If you want to modify your search, then search for alaska AND "some other term". The AND must be in capitals. If your other term is more than one word, put quotes around it. For instance alaska AND "best month" or alaska AND october,
May 26, 2008 3:28 PM
4USA Visa-waiver straightened out.
Citizens from certain countries can enter the US without a tourist visaB-2 provided they can present an outbound air ticket. You may be able to present a bus ticket to Canada or Mexico and satisfy the US immigration official but it would be at their discretion. 90 days starts from day of entry, and if you go to Mexico or Canada for 30 days or less, the officer should leave the I-94W card in your passport and when you reenter the US, you will be still on the original 90 day stay permitted. If you are going to be in Canada or Mexico over 30 days, surrender your I-94W card to the US immigration official before you cross the border. Don't give it to the Canadian official as it will never get back to the US. It is very important to surrender the I-94W to the US Immigration before you cross the border as this is the only way a departure date will be entered into the immigration computer database.
As the visa-waiver implies, you waive all you rights when you sign the back of the I-94W form. The immigration officer has complete authority in determining your admissibility. http:// ie. not satified with your sufficient funds, no outbound air ticket, too much previous time in the US, no full time job waiting for you back home.....or whatever.
But if everything looks good, you can enter and stay in the US on the visa-waiver for 90 days on each entry and make as many entries as you like indefinitely. There is no limit on the number of entries within a certain time period as some people think.
You can always obtain a class B-2 tourist visa even if you qualify as being from a visa-waiver country. The B-2 applicant is almost always granted a stay of 6 months and you actually have a right to present your case to an immigration judge if the border immigration officer denies your entry. The US immigration officer doesn't always fill you in on this little detail.
Hope this helps to clear things up.
May 26, 2008 4:11 PM
5But if everything looks good, you can enter and stay in the US on the visa-waiver for 90 days on each entry and make as many entries as you like indefinitely. There is no limit on the number of entries within a certain time period as some people think.
This may well be true, but the issue often raised is whether departure to other parts of North America only (Canada, Mexico, etc, for whatever length of time) between Waivers is sufficient to lead to the straightforward second Visa Waiver, or whether in fact the traveller has to leave "North America" prior to successfully applying for the second one, and re-entering the US.
May 26, 2008 7:04 PM
No. This is not correct. According to the US State Department, a ticket that terminates in Mexico, Canada or a Carribbean Island will only be accepted if you are a legal, permanet resident of that place
May 27, 2008 12:13 PM
7Citizens from certain countries can enter the US without a tourist visaB-2 provided they can present an outbound air ticket
OP is entering the USA by land. No ticket of any sort is necessary.
May 27, 2008 5:28 PM
8Regarding the last few comments;
It is true that there is no departure immigration control leaving the US 99% of the time. Occasionally, there will be a departure check at the airport gate or land border by US Immigration but it is rare. At land border crossings, stop at the US Immigration port BEFORE you cross the border to surrender your I-94W or I-94 card. This is the only way to have a departure date entered into the database. At international airports, the airline's customer service agents will remove the I-94 card from your passport before you board the airplane.
I know how it works, I worked for the US Immigration and Naturalization Service INS for 13 years at three different international airports and for a short time at a land border crossing. I left the Immigration Service 4 years ago when they changed their name to Customs and Border Protection CBP and INS moved over to a the new Department of Homeland Security. INS was previously under the Department of Justice. I miss my old job because I met a lot of nice people, but I have a better and higher paying job now.
Ironically, the Department of State is responsible for issuing visas, but has no authority for determining admissibility to the US which is the responsibility of CBP.
The onward air ticket is a requirement if you arrive by air in the US and you plan to depart the US by air. But I have stamped a lot foreign passports with visa-waiver I-94W whose owner did not have a outbound ticket and were planning to drive to Canada or Mexico. Technically, they could have been refused entry without a return ticket, but if the passenger could show me a car rental reservation and had a believable itinerary, that was good enough for me.
The draw back with the visa-waiver is that you waive all rightsit states on the back of the form that by signing it you are waiving all your rights and its totally up to one US Immigration officer to determine your entry or no entry. The vast majority of visa-waivers who are refused entry the US are because there is no departure date from the previous visit by the tourist in the computer. the I-94 for whatever reason was not returned to US immigrationand without immigartion departure control there is no exit stamp
With a class B-2 visa, you do not need an outbound ticket and there has to be concrete evidence to refuse admission. This is partly based on the fact that when you fill out the B-2 visa application at an US embassy, you have convinced whoever that you are a bonified tourist with bonified plan. There is the rare B-2 vistor who is refused entry when fraudulent intent or conterfeit documents are encountered.
Concerning the couple travelling in North America. Flying into Canada and travelling overland to Alaska, and then overland to Canada, then overland to the US should be no problem.
Hope this straightens things out a little more.
Feb 2, 2009 4:01 PM
Feb 2, 2009 4:11 PM
Feb 2, 2009 4:21 PM
11You cannot "renew" a waiver. When you arrive by air, you are expected to show an onward ticket that does not end in Mexico, Canada, or a Carribbean Island. Cuba is included in the lsist of islands. Any time yo spend in Cuba counts toward the 90 days you are allowed in the US. If you plan to go overland to Mexico and then fly to Cuba, that is not an acceptble onward ticket. (Going to Mexico and then flying to Belize would be acceptable, if that flight is within 90day of your arival in the US.) The requirement for an onward ticket does not apply if you arrive in the US by land.
If you fly from the US to Belize and try to return under the waiver program, your admission is at the discretion of the immigration official. If you have been in Belize for 24 hours, then the official may be suspicious that you were just trying to get a new waiver to extend your stay in the US, an deny your entry. If you've been in Belize for 6 months, the official will probably be happy to let you in. You still need to show that onward ticket.
There is no minimum time between visits to the US or maximum number of times you can come in under the waiver. It's all up to the immigration offical. The US State Dept. says
Feb 2, 2009 5:24 PM
Feb 19, 2009 12:20 AM
13Would a bus ticket from Mexcio to Belize count as an 'approved carrier' outbound within 90 days? I know, "its at the discretion of the border official", but has anyone done/seen/heard of this situation? I want to travel over land through central America and would rather not have to get a visa. Plan to fly in to LA then straight down to mexico, then back through NY 4 months later. Cheers
Feb 19, 2009 1:26 AM
14I could be wrong, and there might be a lot more flexibility in the system than there seems, but I understand that if you arrive (under the VWP) by air into the US, you need to catch a plane that terminates (with you on it!), outside North America (including Canada, Mexico, etc), within 90 days of your first entry. So a bus from San Diego to Mexico City to Belize does not seem to meet that requirement, even if you leave the US within the 90 day limit.
But if you hand in your I-94 form as you cross the land border at San Diego (or wherever) into Mexico, and try to re-enter some months later using a second Visa Waiver, then you may be fine. See #2 and #3 above.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$149.00 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$255.15 per night
San FranciscoBook now
(0 star Hotel)
From US$19.40 per night