in late Feb I'll be travelling to the USA on the visa waiver program, after my 3 months is up I wish to spend 2 weeks in South America, then return to the States, am I able to do this? Or do I need to return my home country?

Do I also need to book my flight from the US to South America beforehand? At the moment I wish to book a flight to the USA with a return flight 6 months and 2 weeks later, bookng my (visa run) flight while there.

I know getting a B2 visa sounds more simple, however being in northwest Australia I live more then 1000 km away from a US consulate, therefore it is cheaper and less time-consuming to book a 2 week stay in South America.

  • Although similar, that's not a duplicate. That question was referring to travel US->Canada->US, and the VWP rules have specific exceptions regarding Canada and Mexico to avoid people using them for visa runs.
    – Doc
    Jan 12, 2013 at 8:59

4 Answers 4


Let's get the easy question out of the way first. Yes, you will need to buy your ticket to South America before you depart for the US. One of the conditions of entering under the VWP is that you have either a return or onward ticket out of the US within 90 days of entry. This will normally be enforced by the airline, and if you do not have such a ticket you will likely be denied boarding of your flight to the US.

As far as your "visa run", the short answer to this is "it depends".

Technically when you leave the US and travel to a country other than Mexico or Canada (or some locations in the Caribbean) your current VWP entry will end, and when you re-enter a few weeks later you will be given a new VWP, with another 90 days of validity.

However, as with any time that you are entering a foreign country, it is up to the discretion of the the immigrations officers as to whether they will let you into the country, and they can ask you any questions they wish in order to determine your intent.

If, in the opinion of the immigrations officers you are either intending to stay over 90 days, and/or if they believe that your 2 week trip to South America was simply done as a "visa run" in order to extend your VWP status within the US, then they will almost certainly deny you entry. This could happen on your first entry to the US, or on your second entry.

Even if they don't see this as a "visa run", I would expect them to question you over what you are doing in the US for 6 months, and how you intend to financially support yourself there without working - which is not allowed on a VWP visa.

As annoying as a trip to Perth (or Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra) to get a visa may be, in this case I would strongly recommend it or you may find your trip to the US cut short.

  • The kind of information you would be asked when entering the US is: an address where you stay in the US, and a ticket to leave the US, better if the destination is your country of citizenship.
    – Vince
    Jan 10, 2013 at 16:43
  • 4
    You can be asked basically anything when entering the US. See this question for more details - travel.stackexchange.com/questions/11323/…
    – Doc
    Jan 10, 2013 at 16:52

In the UK you definitely need a return ticket booked before they will allow you on the plane, as my sister inlaw found out in Sep. She was refused entry at the boarding gate as she didn't have her return ticket, she had to go online via her phone and purchase a return ticket whilst standing at the gate, she ended up paying over the odds and only making her flight with seconds to spare (They were actually looking for her cases to be taken off the hold)


Once you have left the US after a visa waiver visit you can re-enter and get another visa waiver almost immediately. You don't need to return to your home country.

Technically there is no need to have a return flight booked for a visa waiver. In fact they probably won't look at your return ticket, and so will never know it's for six months time. I've never heard of anyone having a problem like that. Having the ticket booked might be useful if immigration gives you a hard time, though.

  • The people you refer to were supposed to reside in Canada? Because even though I believe the same as you (i.e. no problem to re-enter), I found this document: help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/194/~/… That document says it's not supposed to be easy to re-enter the US.
    – Vince
    Jan 10, 2013 at 14:53
  • I've never seen that before, Vince. Good find. You might like to make an answer based on it. Jan 10, 2013 at 15:28
  • 2
    They can and (sometimes) DO ask to see a return ticket. I know this first hand, as I've been asked to show one when entering the US!
    – Doc
    Jan 10, 2013 at 16:18

That's right. You do not need to buy a return ticket. This ticket clause is just a formal procedure. Because the officer will ask you some questions about your stay intent. That's why if you express yourself in english basicly; actually They will never check that you have a return or onward ticket. Also you may stay in US for up to 3 months and before you overstay your visa you can re-enter to the US again in same VWP grant from any other country except Canada, Mexico and Bahamas...

  • One issue with this: if your Aussie accent is strong, an American might not recognize it as English... :)
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 9, 2015 at 16:34

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