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I have a New Zealand passport. I am married to a Canadian and will apply for a Canadian Residency shortly.

UPDATE: I've since discovered there is at least a one year delay to get a residency in Canada. So the added issue I face is that when I enter the USA, departing to Canada (as a non-resident there) will not fulfill the requirement that I leave the region of USA/Mexico/Canada within 90 days of entering the USA. Looks like I'll have to depart further afield, which is going to be a pain.

We wanted to engage in some informal studies in the USA. The studies are not at a college or institution. It is private studies, and requires us to be in the USA for a period of about 3 weeks four times a year. We can also, optionally, attend 9 day workshops at the end of every interim month.

To clarify, we want to simply make multiple trips to the USA over a 1 year period, as tourists under the VWP. The fact we are studying is ultimately irrelevant, although pertinent to my questions because at the border I will be asked, "What is the purpose of your visit?".

We'll be residing in Canada during the year in question.

So far I have found out that "casual studies" are permitted on a VWP. But I have not found an official definition. Some (non-Government) sites say that casual studies mean the course is under 18 hours per week. But I didn't find any reference to this on a Government site.

I wanted to ask if anyone knows more about this, or can refer to me an official US Gov site with the information I require?

My question does not relate to long-term study (otherwise it would have an easy answer, and not require posting). It is about short-term trips to the USA, and understanding what the legal view is on these trips. Say for a week at the end of every month, over a year. And for three weeks every third or forth month. Is US Border control likely to have an issue with this? Are they likely to think I am coming to the USA to often? Would it be advisable to not disclose that I am "studying" with a teacher there, and to simply say I am visiting a friend (which is still technically true)?

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You should review the permitted and not-permitted list for B1/B2 visa, which you're going to be travelling under a visa with equivalent rights: travel.state.gov/visa/temp/types/types_1262.html#overview –  Karlson Jul 15 '13 at 18:30
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Have you definitely decided to do those studies in the US? Canada permits 'casual' studies of 6 months or less without a student visa. –  DJClayworth Jul 15 '13 at 18:57
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FWIW, I think the question is on topic because it asks about whether studying is allowed for short periods under the Visa Waiver Program. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 15 '13 at 22:53
    
@DJClayworth, thanks for your consideration. In this instance, the studies are with a particular teacher. He resides in the USA. –  inspiredlife Jul 15 '13 at 22:54
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My guess is that the regs are kept deliberately vague, so it can be decided at the discretion of the immigration officer. I think you probably have only two courses of action: 1) phone immigration services and tell them exactly wehat you are planning and get their OK, or 2) just do it. My personal guess is that anything less than a couple of weeks long is probably OK. –  DJClayworth Jul 17 '13 at 13:44

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

As I have mentioned in my comment please review the US State Department's Visitor's Visa FAQ. It clearly states under Tourism and Visit (B-2):

  • enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation).

So if the course/seminar you're attending does not count toward a degree you can do it.

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Thanks Karlson. What had me concerned is that a number of visa related sites were stating the studies had to be under 18 hours a week, and that had me concerned the requirements where stricter than just "not for credit toward a degree". But I'll put my mind to rest. As you've pointed out, on the USSD site it says what it says, so that should be what stands. The other concern I had was beyond just the "study" side of things, and more to do with making monthly trips to the US. I've never really known how Border control relates to that. –  inspiredlife Jul 17 '13 at 12:36
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For completeness, "not towards a degree" is not the only criterion - also "short" and "recreational". I'm pretty sure studying to become a licensed electrician would not be permitted, and nor would a two year course in anything. –  DJClayworth Jul 17 '13 at 13:40
    
@DJClayworth I would have counted "getting a license" as a "degree" but I see your point... –  Karlson Jul 17 '13 at 14:23
    
Thanks DJC.It's "recreational", and each workshop event is "short". I may be choosing to take a succession of such workshops, but they do not collectively form part of a longer-term course of study. So I am thinking it's going to be fine. The only hitch now is that Canada has such a slow residency application process, so from what I understand Canada is not going to suffice as a place to live whilst visiting the USA for a week here and there. Tricky. :-) –  inspiredlife Jul 17 '13 at 18:21

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