We have numerous stories here in travel.se and elsewhere of people who have entered the US on vacation and were given six months validity on their B1/B2 or ESTA status.

They might have originally planned a shorter trip but seeing the extra time, they took advantage and stayed 5 months and 28 days — not overstaying but leaving just under the deadline.

But the next time they tried to come they were given a hard time or even refused another visa.

If USCIS doesn’t want you to actually stay six months, then why stamp permission for six months? Why not give those people just three months? Is it just laziness — they don’t want to adjust the date on their stamp? Or something else?

  • 3
    To be clear/fair the same thing happens also in the UK. thaivisa.com/forum/topic/… Dec 2 '18 at 7:22
  • Yeah, I wanted to make it more generic but I wasn’t sure how common a practice this was, so I kept it just to the USA. Maybe a good answer will address Us+UK or be universally applicable.
    – RoboKaren
    Dec 2 '18 at 7:23
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if there was more to those stories. The main question really is: how do those people support themselves for 6 months without working?
    – jcaron
    Dec 2 '18 at 9:58
  • 3
    @jcaron Not everyone’s life circumstances mimics yours. Dec 2 '18 at 10:11

Apparently because the Code of Federal Regulations strongly recommends it:

8 CFR 214.2 - Special requirements for admission, extension, and maintenance of status.

(b)Visitors -

  • (1) General. Any B-1 visitor for business or B-2 visitor for pleasure may be admitted for not more than one year and may be granted extensions of temporary stay in increments of not more than six months each, except that alien members of a religious denomination coming temporarily and solely to do missionary work in behalf of a religious denomination may be granted extensions of not more than one year each, provided that such work does not involve the selling of articles or the solicitation or acceptance of donations. Those B-1 and B-2 visitors admitted pursuant to the waiver provided at § 212.1(e) of this chapter may be admitted to and stay on Guam for period not to exceed fifteen days and are not eligible for extensions of stay.

  • (2) Minimum six month admissions. Any B-2 visitor who is found otherwise admissible and is issued a Form I-94 (see § 1.4), will be admitted for a minimum period of six months, regardless of whether less time is requested, provided, that any required passport is valid as specified in section 212(a)(26) of the Act. Exceptions to the minimum six month admission may be made only in individual cases upon the specific approval of the district director for good cause.

Hence I believe CBP Officers (not wanting to bother with having to fill paperwork to defend their decision to give you less than the six months to the District Director) default to it.

  • 1
    This policy makes no sense especially if people are penalized for it.
    – RoboKaren
    Dec 2 '18 at 23:21
  • This doesn't address the rationale behind being penalised for using the whole six months (or close to it).
    – jcm
    Dec 3 '18 at 10:22
  • Fair enough, though that answer doesn't give a clear rationale either.
    – jcm
    Dec 3 '18 at 10:29

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