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I might have to travel for work to the US - for the first time ever. I am currently a holder of a Polish passport (where I was born) but also acquired British citizenship (didn't apply for a passport though). How does the process look for me when it comes to entering the US? Since UK citizens do not require a visa for entry and Polish citizens do. The trip could be in two weeks.

EDIT: Filled in D160 on the 1st, had my interview on the 6th, got my passport back on the 9th

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    You get treated by the passport you present. – ugoren Oct 31 '17 at 17:51
  • So that means that even though I'm a British Citizen I should apply for a visa as if I wasn't? – LucasSeveryn Oct 31 '17 at 18:09
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    @LucasSeveryn Either apply for a visa or British passport. – greatone Oct 31 '17 at 18:17
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    Nationality rules are complicated enough that it is not reasonable to expect officials of one country to reliably determine whether someone is a citizen of another country. The passport system allows each country to give its citizens a document that is sufficiently standardized that it can be read and relied on by officials of other countries. If you want US officials to treat you as a British Citizen, show them a British passport. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 31 '17 at 18:22
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    General rule: your citizenship is what your passport states. No passport - no citizenship. Facts matter only for the country you're citizen of, others don't care. – Agent_L Nov 2 '17 at 9:34
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TL;DR: You will need a visa

You must use a British passport in order to travel visa-free, which takes 6 weeks to issue, with no expedited service being available for first-time adult applicants.

So your only hope is getting an appointment at the US embassy as soon as possible and obtaining a B1 visa.

Also, do not, absolutely do NOT, tell US officials you're travelling "for work" or you risk getting sent back. Business is what you're travelling for

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    @DavidRicherby My cousin who applied for entry in WB status got a moody officer and incorrectly stated work as his travel purpose. He was instantly taken to secondary, where the officer twisted everything he said to make him come off as an illegal immigrant, and presented his "findings" as such to his supervisor. Consequently my cousin got removed from port and banned for 5 years, although he got the officer's name whereby I sent a complaint to the CBP on his behalf (I had his passport details). Miraculously, not only was his ban lifted, we were also told he remains VWP eligible. – Crazydre Nov 1 '17 at 9:51
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    Right, so it sounds like he was extraordinarily unlucky and the lifting of the ban and continued VWP eligibility is as close as you'll ever come to an immigration agency saying, "Yeah, we screwed up there." – David Richerby Nov 1 '17 at 10:06
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    I'm just travelling for a conference, do I need B1? – LucasSeveryn Nov 1 '17 at 11:23
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    @Coke I don't understand why the choice of words was relevant. Travelling for work and travelling for business are the same thing. Travelling to find work is something else. But from what you are describing, it sounds like your cousin simply got some idiot and the idiot would have found another way had the cousin used the word business. I really doubt that there could be any universal rule that required you to use the specific word business instead of work or job or whatever. – terdon Nov 1 '17 at 12:42
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    @terdon The issue is that a willful idiot can twist "for work" to mean that you are going to take a job in the US. Saying "for business" cannot be twisted in the same way. It is a game that should not matter if the officer was trying to figure out what you said in good faith, but there is no expectation that they are. So defend yourself as well as you can. – Ukko Nov 1 '17 at 17:48
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To elaborate on Patricia Shanahan's comment:

Nationality rules are complicated enough that it is not reasonable to expect officials of one country to reliably determine whether someone is a citizen of another country. The passport system allows each country to give its citizens a document that is sufficiently standardized that it can be read and relied on by officials of other countries. If you want US officials to treat you as a British Citizen, show them a British passport.

In fact, US law is explicit on this question. From 8 USC 1187:

... an alien who meets the following requirements:

(1) ...

(2) National of program country

The alien is a national of, and presents a passport issued by, a country which ...

(emphasis added)

Therefore, presenting a Polish passport will not qualify you for the visa waiver program, regardless of your other citizenship, and regardless of other evidence you may have of that citizenship.

As Peter Green notes in his answer, your can either get a British passport and use that for the VWP or get a US visa with your Polish passport.

As it's only two weeks before your trip, I would recommend making an urgent application for a British passport if you are in the UK. The cost (GBP 111 to 137, about USD 150 to 180) is similar to the cost of a US visa (USD 160, about GBP 120), but success is far more probable, and the usefulness of the British passport is probably far greater than that of the US visa.

You can look up US visa processing times at https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/general/wait-times.html/. The current times in London are 7 days for an appointment and 5 days for processing. Belfast is somewhat better, at 3 days and 2 days, respectively. The consulates in Edinburgh and Cardiff are not listed, so I suppose they do not process visa applications.

If you are not in the UK and cannot travel to the UK, you cannot make an urgent passport appointment; instead, you can apply for an emergency travel document. To enter the US with one of these, however, you need a visa, so there's no reason for you to pursue that.

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    "I would recommend making an urgent application for a British passport if you are in the UK" OP has never had a British passport, in which case the expedited Service is not applicable. They will need a visa – Crazydre Oct 31 '17 at 23:18
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    As well as applying for a visa, the OP should also apply for a British passport. It allows a lot of visa-free travel, as well as simple entry to the UK after Brexit. – Patricia Shanahan Nov 1 '17 at 2:12
  • @PatriciaShanahan I agree, but that's out of scpe for this Q – Crazydre Nov 1 '17 at 8:23
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Assuming you intend to travel to the US by an approved air or sea carrier and haven't done anything that would make you ineligable for the US visa waiver program you have two options.

  1. Apply for a US visa on your Polish passport.
  2. Apply for a British passport, then once you have the British passport apply for an ESTA.

When they ask about any other nationalities you have you should tell the truth, you do not want to get caught lying by the US immigration authorities.

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    This looks like the correct advice in general. In the OP's specific case, it would seem that option 2 is not applicable, since they're traveling in 2 weeks and (as an adult with no previous British passport) are not eligible for expedited passport service. – Ilmari Karonen Nov 1 '17 at 11:19

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