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US Visas

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jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
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14
Hey fellas!

I'd like to clarify a few things about USA visas and the VWP, since I'm receiving conflicting information from different sources.

I'm planning on going on exchange later this year, and plan on applying for the J-1 visa once I receive my acceptance letter from the university I got accepted into. However, the visa only allows me to arrive in the US no more than 30 days before the course starts, and I would really like to travel around for longer than that, since I rarely get a chance to go to the states, and I don't have much of a window after my exchange to travel.

I was thinking of potentially applying for an ESTA since I have an Australian passport, doing my leisure travel (for less than 90 days), departing to Canada, and re-entering the US on my J-1 visa after the 30-day grace period begins.

There aren't many sources I can find online in regards to this scenario... does anyone know if there are any problems with this plan, and if it's doable, what I should look out for at US immigration?

Thanks in advance!
 

markis10

Veteran Member
Joined
Nov 25, 2004
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30,091
Hey fellas!

I'd like to clarify a few things about USA visas and the VWP, since I'm receiving conflicting information from different sources.

I'm planning on going on exchange later this year, and plan on applying for the J-1 visa once I receive my acceptance letter from the university I got accepted into. However, the visa only allows me to arrive in the US no more than 30 days before the course starts, and I would really like to travel around for longer than that, since I rarely get a chance to go to the states, and I don't have much of a window after my exchange to travel.

I was thinking of potentially applying for an ESTA since I have an Australian passport, doing my leisure travel (for less than 90 days), departing to Canada, and re-entering the US on my J-1 visa after the 30-day grace period begins.

There aren't many sources I can find online in regards to this scenario... does anyone know if there are any problems with this plan, and if it's doable, what I should look out for at US immigration?

Thanks in advance!
I am no expert but it seems okay to me, you might need to tell them on arrival you are not entering on the J-1.
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
Yeah me neither, most 'no' responses I've received were based on out-of-the-book restrictions for either the VWP or the J-1 individually, but didn't take into account the change between the two.
 

RooFlyer

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My niece is in a similar situation. Going on a temporary work visa (don't know its name, sorry) and needs an ESTA in order to arrive more than a month before she starts work.

But you'll check with the US consulate / embassy, won't you?
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
My niece is in a similar situation. Going on a temporary work visa (don't know its name, sorry) and needs an ESTA in order to arrive more than a month before she starts work.

But you'll check with the US consulate / embassy, won't you?
Yup, plan on doing so when I go for the visa interview - the lady on the phone from the consulate wasn't helpful, but I'll see if I can press whoever's at the embassy for a clearer answer.
 

raleyoz

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IMO, you should clarify this situation with embassy , and that ain't easy either. I have had lots of fun with the friendly team behind the glass, they don't miss much, they will know you have a J1, and you will get drilled if you don't have this clear and hopefully in writing from someone with authority. I don't want to be scaring you but, better me than taking the walk to the room.That is never fun!
 

Hvr

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Jun 27, 2007
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8,381
One thing to be aware of is that the ESTA allows entry for 90 days but that the clock continues to run if you go to Canada/Mexico. Therefore leaving the US and going to Canada to re-enter on another type of visa may not be allowed.

I see you're going to discuss this at the consulate and it may be prudent to get written confirmation from them on if you're allowed to enter the US on the VWP for a certain period prior to entering on another type of visa.
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
One thing to be aware of is that the ESTA allows entry for 90 days but that the clock continues to run if you go to Canada/Mexico. Therefore leaving the US and going to Canada to re-enter on another type of visa may not be allowed.
Yeah, funny you mention that - as far as I've been aware, departures and arrivals are kept track of on the electronic I-94s, so border patrol would be aware of my departure. As for the 'clock continuing to run' when you go to Canada, I presume that just means that if you try to re-enter the country, they may be suspicious of you for trying to game the VWP system?

I'll definitely be requesting written confirmation from the embassy when I go to apply for my visa, as well as talking with my travel agent. Thanks for the advice so far, guys!
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
Actually, following this up - I've never visited an embassy or consulate by myself before (I'm only turning 20 next month), so I'm not entirely sure how I would go about asking for written confirmation in regards to visas, or who to go to. Anyone have any experience in this field?
 

Travelqueen

Member
Joined
Jun 23, 2012
Messages
349
Actually, following this up - I've never visited an embassy or consulate by myself before (I'm only turning 20 next month), so I'm not entirely sure how I would go about asking for written confirmation in regards to visas, or who to go to. Anyone have any experience in this field?
hi jubian,

my daughter went on an exchange last year, so was on a student visa. She didn't stay any longer though so we never needed another visa.
We did have an interview at the consulate in melbourne.......I found the man behind the glass to be very friendly, and smiling, but I couldn't help but think that he was totally assessing us, by what he was asking.
Have a great trip, and would love to know how you go with your visa questions.

TQ
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
hi jubian,

my daughter went on an exchange last year, so was on a student visa. She didn't stay any longer though so we never needed another visa.
We did have an interview at the consulate in melbourne.......I found the man behind the glass to be very friendly, and smiling, but I couldn't help but think that he was totally assessing us, by what he was asking.
Have a great trip, and would love to know how you go with your visa questions.

TQ
Thanks! I'll keep you guys updated on how things go, since there might be other exchange students interested in doing something similar to me.
 

harvyk

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they may be suspicious of you for trying to game the VWP system?
It's not so much they they think you might be trying to game the system, it's more that they are closing the loophole which would allow you to enter mexico for half an hour (which basically has a sign on it saying please close the gate), and re-enter the US with another 90 days.

You may need to travel further afield than Canada / Mexico to then be allowed back in under your new visa. Furthermore they may get a little upperty with you arriving on the VWP with full knowledge that you intend to stay beyond 3 months (even if there is a planned side trip into Canada). The big problem is that with the VWP, you can't extend, and you can't change it whilst in country. It all depends on if they count Canana / Mexico as "in country" for the purposes of changing your visa status.

I'm with the others, don't rely on internet forum here-say, go to the US embassy / consulate and ask them the question.
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
Furthermore they may get a little upperty with you arriving on the VWP with full knowledge that you intend to stay beyond 3 months (even if there is a planned side trip into Canada).
That's a fair point - I'll have to enquire about that when I'm over at the embassy for my visa interview.

In the worst case where I may be forced to travel via a non-neighbouring country before re-entering the US, does anyone have any recommendations that are somewhat reasonably priced?
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
Actually, I think I've had a better idea, which I may need to do, since I've found out that it's a VWP requirement to have a return or onward ticket to a country other than Canada/Mexico, and I certainly wouldn't pass that requirement with my current plan.

Why not, instead of the VWP, I did the exact same plan with a B-2 visa? I've been told that changing visas *within* the US is dangerous, since the government can take months to process the change, but what if I came in initially on the B-2, left to Canada, and came back on the J-1? As far as I'm aware, the B-2 would expire as soon as I leave the US regardless of where I went, so there couldn't be any confusion as to what visa I would be re-entering the country, right?
 

jubian

Junior Member
Joined
May 9, 2014
Messages
14
Updates!

I'll be going for my visa interview this Thursday, and to my fortune, I've found this on the Canberra US Embassy FAQ:

[h=5]Q: Can I enter and travel around the United States before and after my F/M/J program?[/h]A: The permitted grace period is generally up to 30 days before the start of your program and up to 30 days after the completion of your program (program dates are on Forms I-20, I-20M and DS-2019).
The grace period is to be used for domestic travel and/or to prepare for and depart from the U.S., and for no other purpose. You are not permitted to enter, exit and re-enter the U.S. during either grace period. For further information please refer to The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs website.
Applicants who wish to enter the United States earlier or remain after the grace period, and those who wish to use this time to visit Canada or Mexico, are advised to apply for a B-1/B-2 tourist visa prior to entering the U.S. You can apply for a B-1/B-2 visa at the same time as you apply for a student/exchange visa. An additional MRV application fee receipt is required for the B-1/B-2 visa, as well as supporting documentation.
To enter the United States under one visa and change to another visa type you may either:

  • Change your non-immigrant visa status while in the United States; or
  • Depart the United States and reenter on your student/exchange visitor visa. If you choose to enter the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 visa prior to commencing your student/exchange program you must depart the United States at the conclusion of your holiday and reenter on your student/exchange visa no earlier than 30 days prior to the start of your program. You may have a one-way ticket when entering with a valid visa.

I'll be going in to apply for both a J-1 and B-2 tourist visa then, wish me luck! :)
 

richh1833

Member
Joined
Dec 16, 2011
Messages
393
Updates!

I'll be going for my visa interview this Thursday, and to my fortune, I've found this on the Canberra US Embassy FAQ:


I'll be going in to apply for both a J-1 and B-2 tourist visa then, wish me luck! :)
Good luck. I would still clarify with the CBP that you're entering on J-1 instead of B-2 when you finally reenter for your studies. I guess try to get in writing from the embassy.
 

YSSY

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May 16, 2014
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I started reading through the thread and my first thought was get a B2, and by the end I realised you'd had good advice. I hold a B1/B2 and C1-D, and definitely find that you gave to be insistant on which visa you will enter on.
I also have heard anecdotes about going to Canada and back not being accepted as restarting the visa, but the Caribbean seems to work fine.
 
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