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ESTA 90 Days Maximum Stay and Flying between US and Mexico

ESTA 90 Days Maximum Stay and Flying between US and Mexico

Old Mar 18, 2021, 12:10 pm
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ESTA 90 Days Maximum Stay and Flying between US and Mexico

Mods, please move if there's a more appropriate place for this

So I'm a british citizen with global entry, travelling under an ESTA for vacation purposes. I was in mexico for a couple of months, before flying into the US.

As usual I'm given 90 days entry. I stayed for 2 weeks, and flew back to Mexico.

Now I'd found out that going Mexico doesnt count as sufficiently leaving the US, and that days spent in Mexico, count as if I was still in the US, so when I fly back into the US I should be given the remaining time left, as if I'd never left the US. OK, weird, but no problem there.

However, flying into LAS I took my GE slip to the cbp agent, and she asked where the second part of the slip is, I didnt even know I should have one, I dont recall ever having a second part which according to her should be telling me how long I can stay (would have been quite useful). She stamped my passport, but didnt write an 'until xxxx date' just left it blank. I couldnt really ask any questions since I had all the crew and GE people waiting behind me, since we'd arrived with no CBP present, we'd been waiting a while so I didnt want to hold the line up.

So I'm going to operate on the same assumption that I've been given previously and leave before the 90 days of my initial trip expires (May 5th). Now I'm booked to go back to mexico April 21st. I want to stay a couple of weeks, but then I wanted to fly back around the 10th May.

Does anyone know if this is possible? according to them leaving to mexico doesnt 'count' so would I then be denied entry?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows a maximum stay of 90 days stay. If you go to Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean, and while you are there your initial 90-day period of entry expires, you may encounter a problem when you need to come back in to the U.S. to fly home. The terms of the VWP are very clear – it is only to be used for occasional, short visits to the U.S. If the U.S. Customs and Border Protection ( CBP) Officer thinks you are trying to “reset” the clock by making a short trip out of the U.S. and re-entering for another 90-day period, you can be denied entry. (If that happens, you will have to obtain a visa for any future travel to the U.S.) In order to be re-admitted to the U.S. shortly after a previous admission expired, you will have to convince a CBP Officer that you are not trying to “game” the system.
https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/trave...the-caribbean/

I mean, the total time I'd be in the US would be less then the 90 days total, so its a bit confusing. I dont fancy getting to the border and trying to state my case. I'm currently thinking that after mexico I'll go to costa rica and fly back to the US from there to make things easier.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 12:34 pm
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Originally Posted by aceman
Mods, please move if there's a more appropriate place for this

So I'm a british citizen with global entry, travelling under an ESTA for vacation purposes. I was in mexico for a couple of months, before flying into the US.

As usual I'm given 90 days entry. I stayed for 2 weeks, and flew back to Mexico.

Now I'd found out that going Mexico doesnt count as sufficiently leaving the US, and that days spent in Mexico, count as if I was still in the US, so when I fly back into the US I should be given the remaining time left, as if I'd never left the US. OK, weird, but no problem there.

However, flying into LAS I took my GE slip to the cbp agent, and she asked where the second part of the slip is, I didnt even know I should have one, I dont recall ever having a second part which according to her should be telling me how long I can stay (would have been quite useful). She stamped my passport, but didnt write an 'until xxxx date' just left it blank. I couldnt really ask any questions since I had all the crew and GE people waiting behind me, since we'd arrived with no CBP present, we'd been waiting a while so I didnt want to hold the line up.

So I'm going to operate on the same assumption that I've been given previously and leave before the 90 days of my initial trip expires (May 5th). Now I'm booked to go back to mexico April 21st. I want to stay a couple of weeks, but then I wanted to fly back around the 10th May.

Does anyone know if this is possible? according to them leaving to mexico doesnt 'count' so would I then be denied entry?



https://nz.usembassy.gov/visas/trave...the-caribbean/

I mean, the total time I'd be in the US would be less then the 90 days total, so its a bit confusing. I dont fancy getting to the border and trying to state my case. I'm currently thinking that after mexico I'll go to costa rica and fly back to the US from there to make things easier.
Wow, I had no idea they had a "VWP Zone". Seems to be the same countries that Americans are permitted to visit using only a passport card instead of a passport? I'm guessing this policy is a result of USA not having any exit controls, and that these countries do not routinely entry stamp travellers from the USA, so if you arrive from (as an example) Toronto, they don't know if you left the USA 90 days previously or 9 hours previously. The DoS guidance suggests there is some flexibility in the policy, in particular, the statements concerning persuading CBP you were not trying to "game the system" by "resetting the visa clock". So if you want to spend a few months in Canada or the Bahamas and return via the USA, requesting an entry stamp from the country you are visiting *may* help persuade CBP you were indeed outside the USA in the interim. Even countries that do not routinely entry stamp passports should do so on request -- I had the Canadians accuse me of overstaying once a very long time ago and since then always insist on a stamp on entry even though they do not routinely stamp US passports at land border crossings. But sounds like the only way to be sure you will avoid problems is to apply for a visa.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 12:41 pm
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Originally Posted by aceman
I mean, the total time I'd be in the US would be less then the 90 days total, so its a bit confusing. I dont fancy getting to the border and trying to state my case. I'm currently thinking that after mexico I'll go to costa rica and fly back to the US from there to make things easier.
Just go here https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section and check the status of your I-94. Choose “Already Visiting & Need Proof of Visitor Status? Get most recent I-94”, and fill in your details. It works for NZ passports (I have used it for a friend) so I can’t see why it wouldn’t work for UK.

Originally Posted by Blogndog
Wow, I had no idea they had a "VWP Zone". Seems to be the same countries that Americans are permitted to visit using only a passport card instead of a passport? I'm guessing this policy is a result of USA not having any exit controls, and that these countries do not routinely entry stamp travellers from the USA, so if you arrive from (as an example) Toronto, they don't know if you left the USA 90 days previously or 9 hours previously. The DoS guidance suggests there is some flexibility in the policy, in particular, the statements concerning persuading CBP you were not trying to "game the system" by "resetting the visa clock". So if you want to spend a few months in Canada or the Bahamas and return via the USA, requesting an entry stamp from the country you are visiting *may* help persuade CBP you were indeed outside the USA in the interim. Even countries that do not routinely entry stamp passports should do so on request -- I had the Canadians accuse me of overstaying once a very long time ago and since then always insist on a stamp on entry even though they do not routinely stamp US passports at land border crossings. But sounds like the only way to be sure you will avoid problems is to apply for a visa.
They know. I flew to Canada for 24 hours in January. When I went to pre-clearance to re-enter the US the day after I left the US and arrived in Canada, the guard knew I had only left the US the day before. They know.

And it does “reset the clock”. At least for Canadians. My new I-94 is for 180 days from the January date, not the previous entry date last October. Maybe it is different for Canadians, though. I think, as it says in your link, it is dependant on if the CBP officer thinks you are trying to circumvent the maximum stay. So many things are dependant on the officer you encounter.
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Last edited by Finkface; Mar 18, 2021 at 12:50 pm
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 12:58 pm
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Canada is not part of the US Visa Waiver Program, and Canadians' visa-free entry to the US is under different rules than the US VWP nationals' visa-waived entry to the US.

The US counting the time in near territorial and near water countries for US VWP countries' nationals under some kind of circumstances is not new, as it's been the case for years. I thought it was meant to deal with the issue of US VWP countries' nationals coming to the US and then trying to extend stays in the US by hopping over to Canada or Mexico for a bit of time and then returning to the US to try to stay way longer. At least in practice before the late 2000s, this kind of thing would very often be missed or ignored by the US Government and some people would stay in the US for 60+ days fly over to Canada and then come back a week or two later to stay for 60+ more days. Even back then, it wasn't supposed to be done.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by GUWonder
Canada is not part of the US Visa Waiver Program, and Canadians' visa-free entry to the US is under different rules than the US VWP nationals' visa-waived entry to the US.

The US counting the time in near territorial and near water countries for US VWP countries' nationals under some kind of circumstances is not new, as it's been the case for years. I thought it was meant to deal with the issue of US VWP countries' nationals coming to the US and then trying to extend stays in the US by hopping over to Canada or Mexico for a bit of time and then returning to the US to try to stay way longer. At least in practice before the late 2000s, this kind of thing would very often be missed or ignored by the US Government and some people would stay in the US for 60+ days fly over to Canada and then come back a week or two later to stay for 60+ more days. Even back then, it wasn't supposed to be done.
Ok, but my post was more to help the OP in checking his exit by date on his most recent I-94. I did say Canada was probably different but again, that part was also more to illustrate that the US does know when you last left.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 7:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface
Just go here https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section and check the status of your I-94. Choose “Already Visiting & Need Proof of Visitor Status? Get most recent I-94”, and fill in your details. It works for NZ passports (I have used it for a friend) so I can’t see why it wouldn’t work for UK.
Thanks, thats actually remarkably useful.

Strangely it does indeed show that I've been given the full 90 days this time, so instead of having to leave 5th May, I can leave 14th June.

When I came in the last time the CBP agent was being trained, and I asked how long in mexico would be sufficient to reset the clock, the supervisor didnt know, and the trainee was unsure, but seemed to think that 30 days away would have been substantial enough.

I was just in mexico for about 18 days, so I'm not quite sure what happened. Given that its the official website I guess I'm pretty confident in it being correct.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 7:20 pm
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Originally Posted by Blogndog
Wow, I had no idea they had a "VWP Zone". Seems to be the same countries that Americans are permitted to visit using only a passport card instead of a passport? I'm guessing this policy is a result of USA not having any exit controls, and that these countries do not routinely entry stamp travellers from the USA, so if you arrive from (as an example) Toronto, they don't know if you left the USA 90 days previously or 9 hours previously.
Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative
I think it was designed to assist the economies of certain countries and allow Americans to travel into said countries and return to the United States with a passport card via land and ship/boat, which is cheaper to procure than a passport book. This is basically to encourage Americans to get out and spend money in certain countries without having them paying more for a passport book.

Want to fly to and from these countries? You will need a passport book any applicable visas for this.

The DoS guidance suggests there is some flexibility in the policy, in particular, the statements concerning persuading CBP you were not trying to "game the system" by "resetting the visa clock". So if you want to spend a few months in Canada or the Bahamas and return via the USA, requesting an entry stamp from the country you are visiting *may* help persuade CBP you were indeed outside the USA in the interim.
While the DoS can offer guidance on how to handle such unique situations and who is in charge of the VWP and issuance of visas, the CBP has the final say of who can enter and under what conditions. If the CBP officer thinks you are trying to extend your time in the US by crossing the land borders, that person will think you are trying to immigrate into the US for study, live, and work. The burden of proof that you aren't trying to do so, rests on you.

Even countries that do not routinely entry stamp passports should do so on request -- I had the Canadians accuse me of overstaying once a very long time ago and since then always insist on a stamp on entry even though they do not routinely stamp US passports at land border crossings. But sounds like the only way to be sure you will avoid problems is to apply for a visa.
There shouldn't be a need to stamp a passport anymore because CBP automatically captures and stores this information when they run your passport through.The storage of this information inside a database is effectively a "stamp" on the passport, you can even file a FOIA petition with the CBP to get them to give you your entries. I'm sure the CBP can pull up this information right when the run your passport at primary.

The only reason why a stamp is needed so they can tell you how many days you will be allowed to be in the country, and then writing in the date they feel like giving you.

My understanding is that the CBSA and CBP at the land border also shares information to track entries/exits, which again is effectively "stamp" on the passport. The only problem I see is if, for an example when I cross into Canada via the land border using my Passport Card/Book and then I use my trusted traveler card (non-Nexus card) to return to the United States,or a dual citizen enters Canada with a non-US/Canadian passport and then returns to the USA on US passport. I don't know if their system can account for different document numbers/nation of issuance even if the name and DOB remain the same on more than one travel document.

Canadians don't stamp US passports at the border because US Citizens/LPR can use an State issued EDL, Nexus card or passport card to enter Canada and its likely most US Citizens/LPR living near the Canadian border will already have one of these documents on their person everyday so that's what they are use to seeing everyday.

Last edited by i0wnj00; Mar 18, 2021 at 8:03 pm
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 8:46 pm
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Originally Posted by aceman
Thanks, thats actually remarkably useful.

Strangely it does indeed show that I've been given the full 90 days this time, so instead of having to leave 5th May, I can leave 14th June.

When I came in the last time the CBP agent was being trained, and I asked how long in mexico would be sufficient to reset the clock, the supervisor didnt know, and the trainee was unsure, but seemed to think that 30 days away would have been substantial enough.

I was just in mexico for about 18 days, so I'm not quite sure what happened. Given that its the official website I guess I'm pretty confident in it being correct.
Glad it worked for you! It is the official US Gov website so I think you are safe in trusting what it says. Glad I could help.
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 8:58 pm
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Originally Posted by i0wnj00

There shouldn't be a need to stamp a passport anymore because CBP automatically captures and stores this information when they run your passport through.The storage of this information inside a database is effectively a "stamp" on the passport, you can even file a FOIA petition with the CBP to get them to give you your entries. I'm sure the CBP can pull up this information right when the run your passport at primary.
No need for FOIA. Again, just use the website I linked to the OP, https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section and click on View Travel History. It goes back quite far, as far as there has been electronic I-94s I think. I just checked mine and there are over 100 entries just since 2016 on the first page alone.

And yes, it does account for different document-type entries. I often fly out using my passport but enter by land using Nexus. All entries are there. It even shows the location and method when you entered the US.

Last edited by Finkface; Mar 18, 2021 at 9:04 pm Reason: Speling
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Old Mar 18, 2021, 9:34 pm
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Originally Posted by Finkface
No need for FOIA. Again, just use the website I linked to the OP, https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home#section and click on View Travel History. It goes back quite far, as far as there has been electronic I-94s I think. I just checked mine and there are over 100 entries just since 2016 on the first page alone.

And yes, it does account for different document-type entries. I often fly out using my passport but enter by land using Nexus. All entries are there. It even shows the location and method when you entered the US.
That's interesting info, I wonder how CBP tracks your departures though. I'm thinking it has something to do with my flight manifest info they receive from the airlines.

Also not certain whether data is shared between CBP and CBSA, since land departures from the USA weren't recorded in my records, only the entries.
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Old Mar 19, 2021, 6:50 am
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That's interesting info, I wonder how CBP tracks your departures though. I'm thinking it has something to do with my flight manifest info they receive from the airlines.
There was a CPB website where you can actually see your departure flight manifest from the US. However, I cannot find that link anymore.

There shouldn't be a need to stamp a passport anymore because CBP automatically captures and stores this information when they run your passport through.The storage of this information inside a database is effectively a "stamp" on the passport, you can even file a FOIA petition with the CBP to get them to give you your entries. I'm sure the CBP can pull up this information right when the run your passport at primary.
Well, that is a bad idea. If you run into a random check (while driving or walking) near the US/Mexican border (on the US side), it's good to be able to produce that stamp in your passport.
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Old Mar 19, 2021, 7:25 am
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The US VWP "zone" of North America includes the US, Canada, Mexico and the following islands: Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Barbuda, Bermuda, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Marie-Galante, Martinique, Miquelon, Montserrat, Saba, Saint-Barthelemy, Saint Christopher, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts-Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Maarten, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre, Saint Vincent, Grenadines, Trinidad, Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands, Other British, French and Netherlands territory or possessions bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

Transiting the US under the US VWP to get to the above countries may be problematic if the time in those VWP "zone" countries + the time in the US exceeds 90 days. If you have permanent resident status in one of those "zone" countries, then using the US VWP to transit the US isn't a problem. Otherwise if thinking about transiting the US on a trip covering "zone" countries that exceeds 90 days, you should want to think about getting a US visa in your US VWP country's passport before transiting the US with it to get to or from those "zone" destinations.

If using the US VWP to re-enter the US after a stint in any of the above places, CBP at times will need to be convinced that the person seeking admission into the US is not trying to "game"-- and "game" is the word that is literally used by State at times -- the 90-day stay limit in the US under the US VWP.

Originally Posted by pentiumvi
That's interesting info, I wonder how CBP tracks your departures though. I'm thinking it has something to do with my flight manifest info they receive from the airlines.

Also not certain whether data is shared between CBP and CBSA, since land departures from the USA weren't recorded in my records, only the entries.
Canada and the US have an agreement that covers sharing entry-exit data for the US-Canada land crossings in both directions such that entry into one country is counted as an exit record for the other country.

Here's more on what Canada collects: https://www.cbsa-asfc.gc.ca/btb-pdf/...cudes-eng.html . It provides a view into what kind of data elements are collected and that are commonly shared above board.

The entry-exist record sharing for land crossings already went on in 2019: https://www.cicnews.com/2020/07/cbsa...html#gs.wlbzwf
Originally Posted by CIC News
Canada and the U.S. have been exchanging biographic entry information on all travellers at the land border since July 11, 2019, a CBSA spokesperson told CIC News. They use the record of a traveller’s entry into one country to establish the exit from the other.
Entries/exits by air are treated differently than entries/exits by air. From the link above:

Originally Posted by CIC News
Airlines are expected to be fully phased into the program by June 2021.
Also, the US and Canada both have passenger data collection mandates in place on airlines that send the passenger info from the PNRs to the relevant government authority. For a long time now, the US has been using US-departing passenger flight info for creating exit records for the passengers on board flights departing the US. Here's a window into what is applicable for being turned over by airlines entering, exiting and flying in US Airspace: https://www.faa.gov/air_traffic/publ...ions/airspace/

Last edited by GUWonder; Mar 19, 2021 at 9:16 am
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Old Mar 19, 2021, 9:03 am
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Originally Posted by warakorn
There was a CPB website where you can actually see your departure flight manifest from the US. However, I cannot find that link anymore.



Well, that is a bad idea. If you run into a random check (while driving or walking) near the US/Mexican border (on the US side), it's good to be able to produce that stamp in your passport.
The US has offered passport cards (the size of a credit card) for non-air travel since 2008 (useable for land and sea entries). Those, of course, were never stamped. The US ceased stamping passports in most instances in 2012. Most FIS will have someone with a stamp because there are still collectors out there.

Last edited by Often1; Mar 19, 2021 at 2:03 pm
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