I currently have both an Australian and a British passport. I am studying in the United States as a J-1 student, however, my J-1 program ends on Dec 21. There is a grace period until Jan 21 but I am not allowed to travel outside the United States or I will not be permitted to re-enter.

I had already booked flights to Canada for a week, at which point I was supposed to return to the US and fly out to Italy for 2 weeks and then return the US again to fly home to Australia.

If I apply for an ESTA with my British Passport is this ok, and will I be allowed to enter back into the US if I am approved for the ESTA and only travel back from Canada on my British passport?

  • 1
    With ETSA, did you mean ESTA?
    – Jonik
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 19:18
  • Will you be leaving the US again before the visa waiver entry on your UK passport expires?
    – Gagravarr
    Commented Nov 28, 2012 at 23:47
  • Are you going to enter the US as a student or tourist? What is the expiration date of your current I-94?
    – R-traveler
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 0:43
  • Sorry, yes I meant the ESTA.I currently don't have a visa waiver on my British Passport, I thought i could possibly apply for one? And I am already in the United States on a J1 Visa, I have just applied for change of status to a B2 Visitor visa, but I heard this can take a while. Does anyone have any other suggestions?! Thank you!!
    – jay.s
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 3:05
  • 1
    "however, my visa expires on Dec 21 (there is a grace period until the Jan 21)" Your visa? or your status? A U.S. visa is only for entry. Your status determines your ability to stay in the U.S.
    – user102008
    Commented Dec 9, 2014 at 22:33

2 Answers 2

  1. You can apply for and enter the US with an ESTA (if you meet ESTA requirements). With ESTA,

    • You can stay in the US for up to 90 days; you cannot extend your stay.
    • You cannot change your status.
    • You cannot study.
    • An ESTA "does not guarantee that you are admissible to the United States". A CBP officer might ask you questions about the purpose of your trip.
  2. Once you leave the US, your change of status petition will be considered abandoned.

  • Thanks for your help. I also just rang US customs, they told me I had been told the wrong thing by the US consulate and paid the $290 to change to another non-immigrant visa unnecessarily. All I need to do is apply for the ESTA to enter back into the US. Now I'm in the process of fighting to get my $290 back. Such a hassle!
    – jay.s
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 18:49
  • You are welcome! The rule is: you can either apply for change of status in the USA (then you don't have to leave the country), or you can leave the USA and apply for ESTA or visa. Good luck with getting back the fee (unfortunately, I'm afraid that it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to get your money back).
    – R-traveler
    Commented Nov 29, 2012 at 19:54

Since you're traveling to Canada, you may be eligible for automatic visa revalidation. Check here to see if it applies to your status: http://www.travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/general/automatic-revalidation.html

Don't forget that status and visa are different things in US. As our international office explained it to us: visa is like a key to the apartment, and status is a permit to stay.

  • 1
    Since this question is about the grace period at the end of a program of study, their status ends upon leaving the US and is not eligible for automatic visa revalidation.
    – krubo
    Commented Apr 30, 2018 at 20:25

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