My situation is this:
- I will enter US on ESTA / VWP. With a New Zealand passport.
- Three weeks later, I will fly to Canada.
- I may be in Canada for 4 or more months (they give me up to 6 by default)
After that, three scenarios are possible:
- I will go elsewhere (South America), but need to pass through the US to do that.
- I will fly from Canada to my home country (New Zealand).
- I will spend some more time (a few weeks perhaps) in the USA, and fly to New Zealand.
Over the years I've seen mixed information about whether or not time in Canada simply counts towards the 90 days US gives on the VWP, and therefore if total time in US + Canada is over 90 days, it could make it hard to re-enter the US without first leaving North America entirely;
Or, they will simply start a new 90 days VWP upon re-entering the USA from Canada;
Or, whether the US will consider the 90+ days in US + Canada and overstay (aka. a violation) of the VWP?
The cause of my confusion
I've seen it written on a US Customs web site back at that time (this was around 2011) passing through the US on the way to Canada would mean you can't stay more than 90 days in Canada (assuming just one day was spent in the US), and I then asked the US Consul in NZ to confirm I'd understood it correctly, and she said I had. She told me outright that if I plan to pass through the US on the way to Canada, I can not stay more than 90 days in the two countries, otherwise I've over stayed my VWP in the US and will need a visa if I wish to return to the US in the following 5 years. She advised I would need to get a Visa if I wanted to pass through the US to spend 90+ days in Canada.
I also see this comment on travelwiki.org:
Visa Waiver Program requirements Travel under the Visa Waiver Program is limited to transit, tourism, or business purposes only; neither study, employment, nor journalism is permitted under the VWP. The 90-day limit cannot be extended nor will travel to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean reset the 90-day limit. Take care if transiting through the US on a trip exceeding 90 days to Canada and/or Mexico. Source: https://wikitravel.org/en/United_States_of_America
I completely agree that a short time spent in Canada (or Mexico) won't reset the 90 days. But does going over 90 days due to staying an extended time in Canada make me an overstayer on the US VWP?
And, what would happen if I was, for example, in Canada for 4 months and then wanted to spend some time in the US before heading back to New Zealand? Will they give me another 90 days of VWP?