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Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

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Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

I'm going on student exchange to Montreal at the beginning of next year and to get there was planning on flying to New York first and then getting a train to Montreal due to it being so much cheaper. I was then also planning on doing some travelling in the US at the end of my exchange 4 months later. However someone told me that when you apply for an ESTA, you are only allowed to visit ONCE for 90 days, so for instance, if I land in New York on Jan 1, my 90 days start then keep going until they run out, even if I leave the country on Jan 3, and then after this 90 day period I will no longer be able to enter the US again. They said because of this I should just get a direct flight to Canada and then get my ESTA at the end of my trip and only enter the US then. However I can't seem to find this information anywhere, it only says the ESTA is valid for up to two years. Have I been informed incorrectly?

15 replies to this topic
Amsterdam, The...
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1. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

You can fly in and out as much as you like as long as you don't stay for more than 90 days in total. Certainly twice in 6 months is not gonna raise any alarm bells.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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2. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

@Ronaldo - are you sure?

I didn't want to answer as I wasn't certain, but, from previous threads I understood that the 90 day limit required the traveller to depart "North America" which included USA, Canada & Mexico. So after entering the USA departing to Canada is not leaving North America so your 90 days is still counting, and staying 4 months in Canada would be overstaying an ESTA.

Only from what I have read on here . . . .

Lewes, United...
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3. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

Let's get a few facts straight.

An ESTA doesn't automatically guarantee you entry into the USA, but it's effectively an electronic permit to enable you to do so. It can be used multiple times during the validity period and that period is 2 years or until the passport linked to it expires, whichever is the sooner. No single trip can be longer than 90 days.

And here's where it could get tricky:

Despite Canada being a totally separate country, the ESTA rules means the clock keeps ticking as long as you remain 'within the region', and this region is greater than the USA as it includes Canada. So, for the trip you plan, you need to return home to Oz or go somewhere totally different within 90 days.

You say you arrive in New York City and then travel by train soon to Canada. That's fine. You also say that 4 months later, after completion of your Canadian student exchange, you will return to the USA to go travelling. That's where you have a problem. You cannot do that as all your time in Canada - and 4 months is longer than 90 days - will exceed the permitted ESTA duration.

Thus, you have 2 choices: Do not fly to NYC at the start of the trip, but fly direct to Canada (and this fly direct means that even a 2 hour stop over on US soil is not an option to you). Then travel by whatever means you like at the end of your student exchange to the USA and travel there for as long as you like up to 90 days (assuming this is still within the period of the first granting of the ESTA you already have).

Or, you need to apply for a VISA for travel to the USA. Visas are expensive and can be time consuming and expensive to obtain as you will need to travel to somewhere within Oz (you do not say where you live - please fill in the rest of your profile) to attend and interview and pay a fee for this visa.

SWT

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4. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

Avoid the USA as the ESTA clock won't stop because you went to Canada. You'd really have to get a visa for the USA in order not to have problems.

Edinburgh, Scotland
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5. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

That's how I thought it was SWT, but I just wasn't certain.

I'll add what I think may be another option. If you fly to Canada via the USA your 90 days start on touching down in the US. So, during your 4 month visit to Canada take a cheap trip to the EU on a LCC flight, perhaps Iceland for a few days, Paris, London etc, anywhere outside "North America" and that may be cheaper than flights direct to Canada and a more enjoyable way to spend the same amount of money ;-)

If you fly back to Canada from the EU then your 2nd 90 days on your ESTA won't start untill you cross the border from Canada to the USA.

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6. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

I absolutely agree with the summary by SWt. You will be stuffed up by the 90 day adjoining country thing which is designed to stop people going to the US for 90 days, then flipping into Canada, Mexico or some other neighbourhood countries, to kick start the 90 days in US again.

Fly direct to Vancouver, and seriously NOT via LAX, SFO or HNL, then enter the US when the 4 month exchange is up. If you cross to the US from Canada by land you will not need an ESTA, as you will complete an I-94W form at the border crossing. However if you fly to the US from Canada you will need an ESTA. If you do take this course of action you will need to apply for an eTA to be able to fly to Canada. Use ONLY the official sites:

Canada eTA - http://www.cic.gc.ca/english/visit/eta.asp

US ESTA - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Brooklyn, NY
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7. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

Whether the ESTA clock continues running when you enter Canada depends on what type of visa you have for Canada. Residents of Canada do not keep running the clock when they enter Canada from the US. (Citizens of Canada do not require an ESTA at all, but residents who are citizens of VWP countries do.) What type of visa will you have for your studies?

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8. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

You have a good point. People who have some kind of visa for Canada or Mexico may be exempt from that rule.

Edited: 22 August 2017, 20:22
Lewes, United...
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9. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

There is a difference between citizens of Canada, long term residents of Canada (with other documentation) and those on short term stays of any kind. As the OP would be entitled to stay in Canada with an eTA for up to 6 months, they may not need to obtain a visa, and no visa for Canada was mentioned, so the advice - without such - still stands.

SWT

Brooklyn, NY
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10. Re: Will Australia to US ESTA allow me to visit twice in 6mths?

My point is that there is a third option beyond your advice in post 3: explore whether the OP is considered a resident of Canada during their studies (and whether a Canadian visa is necessary for such) so that the 90 day ESTA clock stops running after they enter Canada.

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