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I'm from Italy and I had a J1 visa for the US for a year and a half. Now it's expired (I'm in the grace period) but I want to stay longer in California to travel a little bit, because this year I did this trainee-ship and I didn't have the possibility to visit all places that I wanted to.

The question is: Can I go to Canada and come back to the US with an ESTA? I'm not subject to the two years rule to go back to Italy? Is it risky after a J1? Do they believe me? How can convince them that I want to travel a little?

Is it easier to do this via Canada than Mexico? My lawyer said yes but I want to be sure.

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I'm not subject at two years rule to go back to Italy? — is that a question? Doesn't it say on your visa? My lawyer said yes but I want to be sure., are you really more sure based on an internet forum answer than based on a lawyer's answer? – gerrit Mar 11 '13 at 9:29
Don't US allow you to travel for 30 days after the visa expired? I do believe so, and it is written on your visa documentation. – Vince Mar 11 '13 at 9:42
Since you have a lawyer, you should ask them. – txwikinger Mar 12 '13 at 2:16

If you're not subject to a 2-year rule, the only potential problem you may face when returning to the country almost immediately after leaving is that they may suspect that you're going back to work/stay for longer. In such cases, documentation will help you convince the immigration officer of your intention to do tourism: Most importantly, you should have your flight reservation for your trip back to Italy, but of course hotel reservations will further help you make your case.

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