I am going to America at the end of November and I am planning to stay there for the 90 days my ESTA allows. This is more like a gap year for me, or graduation trip. I have a lot of friends here and relatives to visit. This is also an opportunity for me to look at potential companies I could work at. Of course I will be flying back to my home country before any plans of moving into the US.

Is it possible to extend my stay for another 2 months by going out of the country and then applying for another ESTA and re-entering America?

Will it also be a problem of showing a return ticket that exceeds more than 90 days that my ESTA allows?

  • 1
    You're apparently confused about what the ESTA is: it's not a visa it's only an authorization to travel by air of sea to the USA. What counts is your access to the en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_Waiver_Program, which gives you 90 days.
    – user67108
    Oct 17 '17 at 1:48

You do not need to apply for another ESTA, because ESTA is generally valid for two years. Applying for another ESTA will not help. ESTA is simply an authorization to travel to the border; the actual terms of your admission are governed by the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), under which each entry is limited to 90 days.

In theory, it's possible to leave the US (or, better, to travel outside North America and the Caribbean) and immediately re-enter for another 90 days, but the chance of your plans being frowned upon by an immigration officer are very high. If you try to re-enter the US for 90 days immediately after having spent 90 days there, you are likely to be refused entry, but the longer you stay away, the more likely you are to be able to return for the full 90 days.

You can also apply for a B-2 visa, which will allow you to stay for six months at a time. The application fee is $160, and the visa is generally valid for 5 or 10 years, but this depends on the country whose passport you hold. If you are going to do this, you should be able to answer the following three questions clearly and convincingly.

  • Why are you staying in the US for longer than 90 days?
  • How are you going to support yourself while you are in the US?
  • Why should the visa officer believe that you will leave the US?

Your answers should be supported by evidence, and none of the answers should indicate that you are going to violate any conditions of visitor status. For example, your application cannot indicate that you plan to support yourself by working in the US.

The fact that you are a recent graduate will make refusal of your visa more likely. It might be safer for you to change your travel plans somewhat so that less of your time is spent in the US.

Another important factor to consider is that if your visa is denied, you will "most likely" not be able to use the VWP in the future. Thanks to Zach Lipton for pointing this out in a comment. The linked page begins:

If you were previously denied a visa, or previously refused entry to the United States, or previously removed from the U.S., your ESTA application will most likely be denied.

If you were allowed to board your carrier, you may be subject to additional processing upon arrival at U.S. ports of entry, and may be denied admission to the U.S. Applicants who are uncertain of whether they qualify for travel under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) are encouraged to apply for ESTA authorization early, to allow time to apply for a visa, if needed.

As to the return ticket requirement, it is okay if the return date is longer than 90 days after you arrive. The specific requirement is at 8 CFR 217.2:

Round trip ticket means any return trip transportation ticket in the name of an arriving Visa Waiver Pilot Program applicant on a participating carrier valid for at least 1 year, electronic ticket record, airline employee passes indicating return passage, individual vouchers for return passage, group vouchers for return passage for charter flights, and military travel orders which include military dependents for return to duty stations outside the United States on U.S. military flights. A period of validity of 1 year need not be reflected on the ticket itself, provided that the carrier agrees that it will honor the return portion of the ticket at any time, as provided in Form I-775, Visa Waiver Pilot Program Agreement.

But once again you should keep in mind that the immigration officer has wide discretion to deny entry. He or she can (and probably will) take the return date of your ticket into account in assessing your plans. If you plan to leave the US and return immediately to extend your stay, the officer is likely to deny entry. On the other hand, if you have a clear plan to spend a lot of time outside the US between your arrival and your return flight, you are more likely to be admitted.

  • +1. Probably worth mentioning that applying for a visa isn't risk-free, as you likely won't be able to use the VWP your visa is denied. Oct 16 '17 at 19:23
  • Thanks for your detailed answer! I have a German passport, and I have relatives there that are able to support me and provide me accommodation. As mentioned before, I am staying longer due to leisure and job seeking. Would saying that because I have all my belongings in my home country be a reasonable answer? And because I just dont want to risk of damaging my passport
    – Ariannakim
    Oct 16 '17 at 19:38
  • 1
    @Ariannakim the belongings might help, but I doubt it's convincing. You could in theory bring them with you or even abandon them. Usually they'll want to see a job or significant family ties. Your family ties to the US may also hurt your visa application, because it makes it more likely that you'd want to stay in the US.
    – phoog
    Oct 16 '17 at 19:46
  • @phoog How can I prove that I have significant family ties in Europe and Asia? Must i show them their passports?
    – Ariannakim
    Oct 16 '17 at 20:14
  • 1
    @Ariannakim I'm not sure how that works in practice, but passports are probably not necessary. Perhaps you should ask a new question if it hasn't already been covered on the site.
    – phoog
    Oct 16 '17 at 21:42

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