My Wife and I have B1/B2 US Visas that expire Sept this year. We took out visas because our Daughter lives in the States. We usually go for 2 months in the summer and no more than 4 weeks at Christmas time. In total no more than 3 months. Do you suggest we renew our visas or let them expire and use ESTAs in future?
The only problem this year is that we shall go to the States late July and return late Sept which is after the expiry date of our visas!

  • It’s not a good idea to publish your real name – Traveller Jan 30 '19 at 15:25
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    What is the downside to renewing the visas? – Jon Custer Jan 30 '19 at 15:49
  • @JonCuster assuming a ten-year visa, roughly $9 a year (a visa costs $160 while five two-year ESTAs cost $70, although under current law the fee is set to drop to $4 from $14 in a little while). If the traveler is Australian, the difference is greater, since the cost is $160 for a 1-year visa or $185 for a 5-year visa. I would also ask "what's the downside of using ESTA/VWP?" and "why did you get the visas in the first place?" – phoog Jan 30 '19 at 16:21
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    Possible duplicate of Travel to US two day before B1 visa expires – Michael Hampton Jan 30 '19 at 16:41
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    @JonCuster thanks, that comment reminds me of another benefit that VWP visitors give up: the option of extending their stay or switching to another immigration status without leaving the US. Someone who wants to keep options open, you are right to point out, should definitely consider using a visa rather than the VWP. – phoog Jan 30 '19 at 17:23

If you are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program, and you do not plan on spending more than 90 days at a time in the US, then there is very little reason not to use the VWP. The cost of the required ESTAs is usually lower and there is less paperwork. If in the future you decide you want to spend more than 90 days you can always apply for another visa then.

The expiry date of a US visa is the last day on which you can enter the US. Having entered you can stay for as long as the admitting officer gives you, even if your visa expires during that time.

Also, theoretically, there is nothing to stop you entering under the VWP even if you hold a valid visa.

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  • "it's not unheard of for people to visit Canada for a day and then realize their visa has expired and they can't get back to the US": it should be unheard of, however, because of automatic revalidation (info is available from both the State Department and CBP). Also, a VWP-eligible traveler ought to be able to re-enter under the VWP after a B visa expires. – phoog Jan 30 '19 at 17:06
  • Re last paragraph: Indeed, anecdotal evidence suggests that travelers with VWP country passports and visas will often get admitted under VWP unless they're proactive about pointing out the visa to the border officer when they enter. – hmakholm left over Monica Jan 30 '19 at 17:15
  • @phoog I've removed the claim, which I only ever intended to be incidental. – DJClayworth Jan 30 '19 at 18:59
  • It's still worth noting that such a thing would happen to a B-status visitor who is not eligible for the VWP and goes, for example, to the Caribbean, as automatic revalidation would be unavailable. But in all of this, I think it's easy to lose site of the most important point, which is that Gerry (OP) can make the July-to-September trip using the existing visa even though the visa will expire before the end of the trip. – phoog Jan 30 '19 at 19:02

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