This is my situation: I have studied in the US for three years and I have just finished my OPT. I left the US in May after finishing my job. I will be starting a PhD program end of August and have applied for an F1 visa. (I still have a visa from my old school which is valid on paper, but my SEVIS record has already been transferred to my new school).

I am flying to the States tomorrow to spend some time with my friend because I had to leave pretty fast after finishing my job in May to spend time with my family in Germany. My return flight is already booked (in two weeks), and I also have my appointment for my visa interview for my F1 visa in two weeks. Is it ok for me to enter the US under the VWP while my application for an F1 visa is pending? I cannot enter the country more than 30 days before the program start date (which is end of August), and I would like to use these two weeks to spend some time with my friends and former colleagues.

Also, I still have an apartment (the lease is expiring in July) and I will also use the time to get the last bit of my things out of it. Is it ok for me to stay there while in the USA on the VWP or does that violate the VWP terms?

Thank you for your help!

  • 2
    For the second part specifically, I do not see any reason why you could not stay in that apartment. Handling personal business is totally fine, unless of course you get paid for work in the middle of things or break other laws. – xuq01 Jul 7 '18 at 16:28

The fact that you're transferring your F-1 record changes things.

You should check with your new school's Designated School Official about this before you travel. Since you are transferring your F-1 record, you may not be subject to the rule about entering as F-1 only within 30 days of the start date. (Does your new I-20 specify an earliest entry date?) So if you modify your plan a bit, you may be able to enter as F-1 as soon as you get the visa. Then be sure to follow your new school's procedure to get registered in SEVIS.

Opinions vary on whether you can enter on VWP without breaking the continuity of F-1 status implied in transferring your record. As various visa officers and border officers may have differing opinions about this, the safest approach is to avoid doing it.

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