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I have realized that the ESTA form requires you to specify your employer. Some months ago I was in the US and I was hired as an intern for a few months under J1 visa. Once my visa expired I left the US but I continued to work for the same company as a contractor. In the next months I want to visit the US for pleasure. I intend to travel for about 3 weeks in the same city where my employer is based an so I am afraid I may be denied access to the US if I specify my employer information.

I am still a full time university student and I read somewhere that I could write STUDENT under employer. Would that be the best thing to do?

  • Are you working directly for the US company, or do you contract through a contracting company or a sole trader? – DJClayworth May 5 '18 at 2:57
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    Are you really genuinely looking to spend three weeks doing tourism, all in the same city where your customer happens to reside? That would seem a little...concidental. – DJClayworth May 5 '18 at 2:59
  • @DJClayworth I don't think so. Are you a programmer? Can't visit San Francisco then... Career in movies? Can't visit LA... Finance? NYC... – user71659 May 5 '18 at 4:24
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Let's answer the questions you asked and some of the unasked ones.

  1. There is nothing wrong with visiting the US for pleasure, even if you are a contractor to a US firm. As a contractor you are not being paid for time you are not working, so you don't fall foul of the "not receiving money from US sources" rules.
  2. In general wanting to spend three weeks for tourism in the same city as your employer might raise suspicions. However Boston is a popular tourist destination, and coupled with wanting to visit your girlfriend who lives there makes your trip very reasonable. Having some pre-planned activities, or at least knowing what you are going to be doing would help your case.
  3. In case you were wondering, you would be allowed to use a VWP to make a work visit to your employer/customer, or to combine a visit to your girlfriend with a visit to your customer. A VWP visit allows you to do all the activities you would be allowed to do on a B1/B2 visa, which means you can meet with your employer for planning, discussions, evaluations etc. related to your work. You might want to read up on the details of the permitted activities. Three weeks is not an unreasonable length of time to spend on those activities.
  4. Writing 'student' as your occupation would be a bad move, as it omits material information and so would be considered a lie. Lying on an ESTA application might attract a ban from the US, which would seriously impact your career.
  5. Writing 'self-employed', or giving the name of your own contracting company as your employer is probably acceptable. They may ask you additional questions.

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