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I entered the USA on a three month visa waiver program from Australia. I am about to return to Australia and would like to come back again to the USA. How long do I have to wait until I can re-enter the USA for another 3 months?

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Do you mean as an Australian citizen or as some other citizen who just happens to be in Australia? I ask because we have tags for questions specifically about citizens from various countries. – hippietrail Nov 1 '12 at 13:34
You have to wait for your flight to arrive in Australia, and for you to get on your next plane back to the US. So, technically, about a day and a half. But you have to be able to justify your visit to the CBP officer. – Michael Hampton Apr 2 at 3:51
I'd keep this one as the canonical and close-vote all the others as duplicates. – JoErNanO Apr 20 at 7:02

There is no official rule on this. It is up to the discretion of the customs office dealing with you at the border to decide if you can or can't enter. This applies whether you have a visa or wish to use the VWP.

The prime directive of the officer is to assume you wish to live in the USA. It is up to you to prove otherwise. The amount of "proof" required may be as simple as your verbal statement that you intend to do XYZ whilst there, and intend to leave on XYZ date. But if the records show you have been spending more time in the USA than you have outside the USA, the officer may decide you are misusing the VWP system to "live" in the USA.

My personal experience is that some ports of entry have officers with significantly stricter attitudes. Others are more lax. For instance, in my experience, the difference between entering the USA via Florida and New York is like night and day. I've entered through both on many occasions. Coming from Australia/New Zealand, I've also noticed a different between LAX and SFO. I always come and go through SFO if possible. It's not as much of a difference as MIA and FLL (both in Florida), but enough to warrant avoiding LAX. Also the airport is less busy in SFO so that's a plus.

It is my understanding that if you are denied entry you will likely require a visa to return to the USA (from memory, this will hold true for a period of 10 years, but it may be indefinite, I am not 100% sure). Receiving a visa may also be more difficult if you were refused entry at the border. Caution is advised.

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I think you can enter again the day after you left. I remember entering again about 100 days after I entered the first time (so not long after the end of the 90 days, but a while after I left the country) and I have friends who entered a lot of times and on a regular basis so they probably had maybe 2 weeks between the time they left US (and gave their I-94 back) and they entered again (filling a new I-94). We were all European and part of the Visa waiver program.

Be careful, though, to do the ESTA procedure if you arrive by plane (likely in your case).

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Vince, FYI the link is dead. – JoErNanO Apr 20 at 9:21

There is no official rule for this, although there is a rule of thumb according to CBP. This is that if one spends X days in the US on the VWP, one should wait at least X+1 days before seeking to re-enter the US. Quoting from this Travel.SE answer on the topic:

CBP Rule of thumb between visits

the important paragraph reads:

The Visa Waiver Program doesn't work that way. If he decides to use the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA); maximum stay is 90 days and he needs to allow adequate time between visits. The rule of thumb is if he is in the US for 90 days; should be out of the U.S. for 91 days before returning.

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I don't think this letter supports a general "X+1 days" rule of thumb when X is not 90. For example, if someone travels to the U.S. for a 14-day business visit, then goes home for 7 days and comes back seeking entry for another 14-day visit, then I have trouble imagining that the border guards will turn him back for that reason -- especially considering that he would have been allowed to simply stay in the U.S. for the entire 5-week period instead. And even if this is a general rule, that fact is not reasonably implied simply by a single X=90 data point. – Henning Makholm Apr 20 at 9:23
@HenningMakholm I think you're on to something. The general point is that someone should not appear to be living in the United States on the VWP. Someone who makes repeated visits for long periods of time will naturally lead officials to conclude he is living in the country. Two short business visits, especially if supported by a reasonable premise and documentation, seem unlikely to be a problem. Two longer visits are a problem. I think the advice more broadly is "spend as much time out of the country as you do in it" and the "X+1 days" is a rule of thumb. – Zach Lipton Apr 20 at 16:50

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