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If I leave to go to south America for say two weeks can I then return to America with a new tourist visa and a fresh 90 days?

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If you are an Australian citizen, strictly speaking, you are probably applying for an ESTA, not a visa (esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/…), unless you are not ESTA-eligible for some other reason (esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/WebHelp/…;. –  Andrew Ferrier Apr 3 '13 at 15:49
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There is no issue with doing this, as long as you leave the US having followed the visa requirements, and that you apply using the ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) website on both occasions well before you board your flights.

Particularly on your second visit, you may be asked some additional questions, like:

They can demonstrate the intent to stay 90 days or less in the United States and demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the United States. Learn more on the CBP website.

More info on the US Department of State's travel site.

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That's not quite correct. Once you have an ESTA, it is valid for two years and you do not need to apply for it again the second time round (assuming it hasn't expired). You can update the details if needed (for free), although it's not clear from the ESTA website whether this is required - I do it, though, just to be 100% transparent. –  Andrew Ferrier Apr 3 '13 at 15:47
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