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Author Topic: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?  (Read 5204 times)

thesmiths

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Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« on: January 15, 2013, 03:00:40 PM »
Hi there .... quick question for you please ....

We are hoping to come across to the States (from the UK) and were ideally thinking of a year long tour (assuming we can get an extension on our original length of stay), with hopefully another tour of a year-ish afterwards.  Thinking about Immigration and them possibly not letting us in after our first tour, and with the tour being a year long ...

Would we be better just staying for 6 months, coming home for 6 months (or less if you think so) and then going back for 6 months under the B2 visa, or just coming across every few months for 3 months at a time under the Visa Waiver Program?

Thank you!

Tom

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2013, 05:33:39 PM »
It's been a while since I looked at the Visa Waiver program rules, but I would check that the program allows you multiple entries; I'm assuming you'd need to re-apply (e.g. online via ESTA) each time. If you get  the B1/B2 visa in your passport(s), it's good for 10 years (or until your passport expires) and for multiple entries. You then have the choice of how long you wish to stay for any given visit, subject of course to 6 months maximum for any one stay. However, B1/B2 does require a visit to a US embassy or consulate in the UK.

A big advantage of using the B1/B2 route is that, should you need to, you can apply for an extension of any stay; This is not permitted under the Visa Waiver program. So, you have a lot more flexibility going the B1/B2 route than going the Visa Waiver route.

Whichever route you go, remember that the duration of any given stay will be determined by the Customs & Border Patrol agent at the port of entry, although they usually grant what you request, up to the 3 month (Visa Waiver) or 6 month (B1/B2) limit.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2013, 01:28:29 AM by Tom »
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muskoka guy

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2013, 06:39:42 PM »
how about touring canada for the summer then heading south to the usa like the snowbirds do when the weather cools. i am not familiar with requirements in canada but being a commonwealth country of britian you would think we would welcome you in canada. lots to see in canada from one end to the other you could easily fill six months if you wanted to.

thesmiths

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2013, 02:24:14 AM »
Thank you both.  I haven't actually looked into Canada at all, but I will do!

Jan & Yvonne

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #4 on: February 14, 2013, 06:08:40 AM »
how about touring canada for the summer then heading south to the usa like the snowbirds do when the weather cools. i am not familiar with requirements in canada but being a commonwealth country of britian you would think we would welcome you in canada. lots to see in canada from one end to the other you could easily fill six months if you wanted to.

We did a 1 year tour USA/Mexico/Canada in a RV bought in the US as a EU-citizen. That was back in 1999, but still.
Hopped for a week to Mexico when our 6 months where about to expire. Be sure you surrender the I-94 form to a US customs agent (not a Mexican one...). When you enter the states after a week you should get an other 6 months. Same "trick" is to go to Canada for a short/longer period. Going to request an extension at the INS is much more expensive and prone to get denied.

Be also aware that shipping the RV with an attached gas(LPG) tank is not allowed unless it has been cleared by an authorized agency as being empty. Check the Seabridge web-site (http://www.sea-bridge.de/html/shipping.php?PHPSESSID=3nmijl6mraeu59ashse36tpu35). They can also help you with the LPG tank. You'd probably better off to have a portable tank connection, so you can use US-portable tanks.


Tom

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #5 on: February 14, 2013, 07:44:24 AM »
Quote
When you enter the states after a week you should get an other 6 months. Same "trick" is to go to Canada for a short/longer period.

Although this "trick" is used by many people, we have heard of cases where folks were refused re-entry into the USA. The Border Patrol agent felt that the folks were deliberately trying to get around the 6 months rule.

Quote
Going to request an extension at the INS is much more expensive and prone to get denied.

If someone files a Form I-539 (Extension of stay) while still in the USA, they get an automatic extension of up to 8 months (total of 14 months) while their application is considered. See this message. We have not heard of anyone being refused an extension.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 10:38:14 AM by Tom »
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woodpidgeon

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2013, 10:10:44 AM »
Tom

Don't forget ESTA, it is mandatory and costs $14.  Please emphasize the fact that if you google you will be presented with a number of companies offering to do this for you - normally for 30.00 to 50.00.  This is a con because if you go on to the Embassy website you can do it yourself in about 2 mins.

Tom

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2013, 10:19:39 AM »
Quote from: woodpidgeon
Don't forget ESTA, it is mandatory and costs $14.

Aye, I mentioned ESTA in my first reply. It's only mandatory for the visa waiver, and cannot be used for a B1/B2 visa.

Good point re the cons. Family members who have used ESTA have done it themselves online.
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Dougie Brown

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2013, 04:41:47 PM »
This link to my FAQs may help (link in signature line - then go to FAQs).

I respectfully disagree with Jan & Yvonne's advice about surrendering the I-94.  It's simply incorrect.  In the Visa section of the FAQs, you'll see I've laid out the current position, obtained personally from CBPA and several border agents who are friends.  If you surrender your I-94 before driving out for a week to Canada or Mexico and expect to be allowed to re-enter the US for another extended period, you can expect to be severely disappointed.  As I say, read through the FAQ page - it explains it in more detail.

Dougie.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 05:01:01 PM by Dougie Brown »
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Tom

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2013, 05:24:14 PM »
Interesting Dougie. The statement on the back of the current form I-94  appears to be at odds with that opinion:

Important Retain this permit in your possession; you must surrender it when you leave the U.S.
Failure to do so may delay your entry into the U.S. in the future.
You are authorized to stay in the U.S. only until the date written on this form. To remain past this date,
without permission from Department of Homeland Security authorities, is a violation of the law.
Surrender this permit when you leave the U.S.:
- By sea or air, to the transportation line;
- Across the Canadian border, to a Canadian Official;
- Across the Mexican border, to a U.S. Official

To the best of my recollection, the requirement to surrender the I-94 on leaving the U.S. hasn't changed since I was given my first one in the 70's. Travelling by air, the airlines remove it from your passport when you check in, but neither Canadian nor Mexican authorities care about it.
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sharonholroyd

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #10 on: February 07, 2014, 02:11:37 PM »
Hi,
I just thought I'd update this topic with our experiences. My fiancee and I are from the UK, and are just coming to the end of our year long road trip around the USA/Canada/Mexico. We obtained the 10 year B1/B2 VISA's with no problems and used the "trick" of exiting and re-entering the USA to extned our VISA's. The only problem we encountered is that the boarder agencies are only able to extend your VISA for a maximum of 6 months from the date you re-enter the USA from either Canada or Mexico. So have to time the boarder crossing exactly right to get exactly a year. For example, we entered the USA on April 1st 2013, we re-entered Canada a week before our VISA expired (not wanting to leave it to the last minute in case there was a problem); but as a result we were a week short on our VISA extension.  This meant that we had to re-exit the USA again in January (into Mexico) to get a further extension of our VISA to take us through to 1st April 2014. They then extended our VISA for a FURTHER 6 months from that date, so we could then effectively stay  until June 2014.  Each tine we extended there was a small fee of approx 20 if I remember rightly.
Things to remember is to have proof of return flights available to show to customs officers (we had to get a return flight for 6 months, then change the date for a year to satisfy the immigration system.)  They also wanted see copies of up-to-date bank statements to prove you had funds to support yourself in the USA, and also a copy of the deeds to our UK home was also useful leverage to convince them of our ties to the UK and eventual intent to return to the UK.

Hope this helps someone, we had to do so much research when we were planning this trip and this info was not readily available.
Well worth it though!

Sharon :)

Tom

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #11 on: February 07, 2014, 02:37:17 PM »
Thanks for the update Sharon. That's pretty much how it's been for some years. I wasn't aware of the fee for re-entering the USA to extend your stay another 6 months.
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Gone Roaming

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #12 on: March 16, 2014, 04:15:27 PM »
Hi Sharon - this is really helpful. We hope to do same next year. Just interested in how much you paid to extend your plane tickets and was 6 months the maximum you could get on them for a return ??
Cheers
Gaynor ( UK)

thesmiths

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2014, 12:27:07 PM »
Thanks for that information Sharon  :)  I am not sure I would be quite so brave as you with regard to going backwards and forwards getting an extra 6 months each time - I am sure knowing our luck they wouldn't let us!

Gone Roaming - flights usually come out something like 11 months before the date of the flight, so theoretically you could get a flight 11 months apart, if you booked it last minute for the outbound leg and 11 months in advance for the inbound leg.  Not sure if that is what you were asking, but the maximum time in advance you can usually book scheduled flights is 11 months in advance.

Gone Roaming

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Re: Coming from the UK - visa waiver program or B2 visa?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2014, 03:09:31 PM »
Ok thanks for the advice :)

 

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