We arrived in the US by air, bought a car in California, and spent just under the 90 days allowed in the USA under the Visa Waiver Program before exiting overland to Mexico.

Our plans have now changed and we wish to sell the car in a few months time and return home to Australia.

To sell the car and transfer registration requires a smog check, and our preferred flight goes from Los Angeles, so it appears we have to return to the US to sell the car and fly home. We plan to give ourselves a month in the US to sell the car before flying home.

We're unsure what our best move is in gaining re-entry to the USA. Our options as we see them:

1) Return to the border after 90 days+ in Mexico, explain that our purpose of entry is to sell the car and fly out, and show proof of travel.

2) As above but take the long drive down to Guatemala or Belize in order to leave North America, before driving back up.

3) Apply for a proper visa at the embassy in Mexico City. However they appear to require original copies of marriage/birth certificates, which we don't have with us.

Additional Information:

We entered by air, and therefore weren't given a paper I-94W form. Our proof of exiting the USA within the 90 days is in the form of our entry stamps to Mexico.

We have more than sufficient funds to support ourselves in the USA, and can provide evidence of it.

We will have one way tickets booked back home to Australia and can show the booking as evidence. We're travelling on our Australian passports.

I realise that there aren't any guarantees or hard and fast rules. However we'd appreciate opinions on the best course of action based on our situation.

Many thanks!

  • Your question is no different from several similar ones like this. travel.stackexchange.com/questions/107090/… A lot of the additional information in your question are irrelevant. #2 has the highest likelihood of success in my opinion. Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 4:42
  • 1
    What makes you think they require marriage and birth certificates?
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 5:20
  • Why can't you sell the car in Mexico and fly home from there? Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 8:17
  • @DavidRicherby "To sell the car and transfer registration requires a smog check..."
    – phoog
    Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 12:41
  • @phoog If the car is sold in Mexico, why does California law apply? Commented Sep 18, 2018 at 12:49

1 Answer 1


If you've been outside the US for more than 90 days then it should not be necessary to leave Mexico. The regulation that is intended to prevent visa runs to adjacent countries is 8 CFR 217.3(b):

(b) Readmission after departure to contiguous territory or adjacent island. An alien admitted to the United States under this part may be readmitted to the United States after a departure to foreign contiguous territory or adjacent island for the balance of his or her original Visa Waiver Pilot Program admission period if he or she is otherwise admissible and meets all the conditions of this part with the exception of arrival on a signatory carrier.

Going to Central America is unlikely to help, as the only purpose of doing that is to render 217.3(b) inapplicable, but it is already inapplicable because it has already been more than 90 days since you were originally admitted to the US.

Since the balance of your original period will have expired, it will not be possible to readmit you under the original period of admission, so the officer have to consider whether to grant a new period of admission. As you will have been outside the US for a longer than 90 days and you will have proof of travel, you are unlikely to have trouble with that.


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