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I've searched through existing questions, but none seem to mention my specific situation, so I wanted to see if anybody has some experience with the following situation on an ESTA visa.

From March 2nd to May 28th (87 days) this year, I was visiting and staying with family in Charlotte, NC.

I'm hoping to visit Philadelphia around the 4th July for 4-5 days, but wanted to know if anybody could shed some light on whether or not this could pose any issues with US immigration, having only been in the UK for 37 days before returning to the USA?

For additional context, I live and work permanently in the UK. I'm struggling to find any solid information on the time frame which would be deemed acceptable, so would massively appreciate any input.

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    How can you be gone 87 days in the US and live and work permanently in the UK? Are you a remote worker or something like that? – Pierre B Jun 10 at 11:43
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    @PierreB: I have enough overtime that I could take ~110 days (note, that's workdays, translating into roughly 150 days) off without even touching my vacation days. If I were willing to also use up my vacation, and also accounting for bank holidays, I could take 200 days off, and still "live and work permanently in Germany". – Jörg W Mittag Jun 10 at 15:38
  • @PierreB I don't see how divulging this info will help the OP – Nathan Thomas Jun 10 at 18:17
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There is nothing prohibiting this. The circumstances could easily lead to greater scrutiny, of course. If you are in a position to offer evidence of your plans to leave the US after 5 days, you should be fine. Your air travel booking is of course one part of that evidence (which the immigration officer should have access to without your having to show it). Any appointments you might have in the UK or elsewhere after you leave the US might help. But there's every possibility that you won't be asked for any of that.

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    Thanks @phoog, that's really useful - appreciate you taking the time to answer. – Graeme Bryson Jun 9 at 22:13
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    In 2014 I spent 70+ days in the US, went to Poland for a week and re-entered the US for a further 30+ days. The 90 day period is reset. – Nathan Thomas Jun 10 at 14:10
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    @NathanThomas thanks for your comment. Just to be clear, could you confirm that it is expressing agreement with this answer? Also, could you tell us whether you faced additional scrutiny on your second entrance? – phoog Jun 10 at 14:26
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    @phoog Yes, I completely agree with your answer! I don't remember being scrutinized on my return. I may have been gently probed but not enough to make me remember it - and this was going through the notoriously bad LAX! Graeme, I don't think you will need it, but be prepared and READY to present evidence. Basically, you don't want to be unpacking your bag at immigration to find some paperwork - it won't help the situation. And whatever you do, always be truthful! – Nathan Thomas Jun 10 at 18:15
  • @NathanThomas That's good to hear - thanks for taking the time! – Graeme Bryson Jun 10 at 19:01
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Note that contrary to the Schengen Area for instance, which has a very well defined rule on how long you can stay over a longer period (the 90/180 rule), the US does not have such a rule.

Travellers using the VWP cannot stay more than 90 days in a row (including travel to adjacent countries and neighbouring islands), and they should not be attempting to live in the US. There are no hard and fast rules on how long you must be away before you can return.

A rule of thumb published by CBP is that if you stayed 3 months, you should be away for 3 months before returning, but this is usually taken in the context of “returning for 3 more months”, or at least a significant duration.

For a short stay (which, as @phoog explained, would be good if it was easy to demonstrate with a return ticket and other evidence), though, this should be fine, especially since there will have been a full month since your last departure.

Be prepared for additional scrutiny, and have as much evidence as possible of your intention (or even need) to depart the US promptly. This is of course much easier if you have a full time job waiting for you rather than being a student on sabbatical or being unemployed.

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    Thanks for the additional clarification, @jcaron - massively appreciated. – Graeme Bryson Jun 10 at 8:05
  • And CBP Actually likes return tickets, unlike UKVI. – Harper - Reinstate Monica Jun 10 at 14:42
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    @Harper More specifically, onward tickets. They don't much care where you go as long as it's "away". – David Richerby Jun 10 at 15:02

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