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I'm currently in the US on a F1 visa, doing OPT. My work permit expires on July 23rd and I decided to go back to my home country. The "problem" now is that I've already planned a vacation with my family in Florida at the end of November, but my 60 day grace period for my F1 status ends on September 21st. It makes more sense for me to stay in the country until the end of our vacation rather than going home to Germany and having to deal with the unemployment department.

Of course I don't want to stay in the county illegally and I applied to some school with ESL programs since it's probably the easiest way if I continue school and maintain a legal F1 status. Now I worry that I won't get accepted at a school and my Plan B would be to visit a friend in Canada for three weeks and enter the country in mid October on the VWP. Is there some rule about how long I have to be out of the country before I can enter the country again on the VWP? How high are my chances that the officer at the airport let's me enter on the VWP three weeks after I left the country with an F1 status?

Thank you for your help.

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Yes. There is no rule preventing you from coming back on VWP after leaving on F-1, and given your vacation is several months after the end of your OPT, it seems reasonable to go home at the end of your OPT and come back on VWP for the vacation.

If you wanted to stay in the US until the vacation, you could apply for a Change of Status to B2, but it would be pretty unreasonable to stay in the US for months just for a short vacation at the end.

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As the other answer intimates, it would be possible to either do VWP but there is also a good chance you’ll get turned back at the Canadian border.

Look at it from the perspective of the US immigration officer. His or her job is to ascertain whether you might be trying to overstay your visa, whether you are working illegally, or whether you have immigration intent.

From all three perspectives , you seem like a risk:

  • you’ve been working for a year but had to quit your job as your OPT ran out but you want to spend more time in the USA. This suggests you want to continue to work
  • you don’t want to go back to your home country to find work or go on unemployment, this suggests you have employment here
  • you don’t seem to be independently wealthy or at least wealthy enough to fly back home and fly back. This suggests you need money to support yourself.

All of the indicators are not good for you. You might re-enter without issue but you might also get turned back at the border and sent on a plane back to Germany from Canada if Canada also refuses to take you back. A double deportation/refusal doesn’t look good on a travel record.

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