I am an Australian applying for a J-1 visa to go on exchange at a Uni in the US for the spring semester of 2019. This visa allows me to stay for 30 days after the program ends on the 10th of May, but I would like to go to a big bluegrass music festival takes place just outside the 30 day limit.

I have found 2 possibilities so far:

  1. Apply for J-1, leave for Canada within the 30 days and attempt to reenter with the Visa Waiver Program (risky), see post: https://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/permalink/post/22902445

  2. Apply for J-1 and B-2 visa at the same time before going to US???

As this will be a once in a lifetime experience, I would really like to make this happen. What options are there to stay for longer? I have not applied for the J-1 visa yet as I am seeking advice on this matter.

Thank you.

  • 1
    B2 is going be no better than the VWP, will still be up to the immigration officer on arrival. If you have a ticket home and tickets to the festival I can't see a good reason with your story why you won't be allowed in. I returned to the USA for 90 days on VWP after doing a summer camp job on a J1 visa, I got a few more questions than usual but was honest about my intentions and was let in. Obviously that is dependent on the immigration officer.
    – BritishSam
    Nov 16 '18 at 8:38
  • 1
    Also if you arrive to the US by road from Canada you don't need to apply for an ESTA. Although some people say it gets them through the border quicker.
    – BritishSam
    Nov 16 '18 at 8:39
  • Thanks Sam. Is it fair to say that if I wish to extend my stay, it will have to involve travelling to Canada within the 30 day Grace period of the J1? So you came back during the J1 grace period and were able to use the VWP?
    – Rob
    Nov 16 '18 at 11:25
  • @BritishSam B2 is better than the VWP in certain respects, but none that would be particularly helpful in this case. Rob: to change from J-1 status to B-2 status you would also have to leave the US and reenter, or you could file an in-country change-of-status application, in which case you would not need a B-2 visa in your passport. The rules on COS applications have changed recently, though, so I need to do some research before I can post a proper answer.
    – phoog
    Nov 16 '18 at 13:36
  • Thanks for your comment phoog. Any clarification on the COS application thing would be appreciated.
    – Rob
    Nov 16 '18 at 14:51

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