i have been traveling the US as a videographer and my passport did not get stamped on second arrival into the states but was scanned through normal customs but just not stamped by an officer. should i be worried?

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    Where were you arriving from? What does your I-94 record show i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home? – Traveller Oct 2 '19 at 6:47
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    To be accurate, it's not an "ESTA visa", you were admitted under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) rules. The ESTA is just an authorisation to board the plane to the US, it's the VWP which actually lets you enter. What are the dates of your two visits, and which country did you leave to/arrive back from between the two visits? Also, are you sure your intended activities are permitted under VWP rules? You are not allowed to work while in the US under VWP. – jcaron Oct 2 '19 at 8:13
  • By work it is meant an activity that one is paid for, otherwise it is not work. – abdul Oct 2 '19 at 18:30
  • Do people get a second stamp when re-entering US within the duration of the first stamp? – kiradotee Oct 2 '19 at 22:00
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    @abdul: "Work" is much more complicated than that. To begin with, "work" means an activity that people are usually paid for (in the immigration authorities' view of the world), no matter if the traveler actually receives payment for it. Arriving travelers routinely get bitten by saying they plan to help host families with, for example, babysitting, which counts as "work" even if not paid in money. – hmakholm left over Monica Oct 3 '19 at 9:16

I'm not an expert on the ESTA and VWP, but from what I understand, if you leave the USA for Canada or Mexico and return via Canada or Mexico you don't need to be stamped again as it is considered part of the same trip. This was certainly the case for us when we went back and forwards between Canada and the USA a few times on our last trip. We were only stamped on first arrival into the USA and into Canada. The subsequent ones, they just checked our passports, did the usual entry/exit scans and that was it. So the below happened on our trip:

  1. We arrived in the USA by air, passports stamped.
  2. Went to Canada 1 day later by air, passports stamped.
  3. Came back to USA 6 days later by air.
  4. Went to Canada 4 days later by land.
  5. Came back to USA same day by land.
  6. Went to Canada 2 days later by sea.
  7. Came back to USA 1 day later by sea.

We were only stamped once for entry into the USA, and that was on our first arrival.

I believe this is normal practice.

  • Under the VWP, time spent in Canada, Mexico, and adjacent islands counts towards the maximum of 90 days stay allowed under the program. nz.usembassy.gov/visas/visa-waiver-program – Mark Johnson Oct 3 '19 at 9:27
  • @MarkJohnson that's a gross oversimplification of the actual law, and it doesn't actually have much bearing on whether the passports are or should be stamped. – phoog Oct 3 '19 at 14:29
  • @phoog It's not my statement, but a statement made on multiple US Embassy sites. No extra stamps are needed since they would all have the same until date, since the days in Canada and Mexico count. That at least would explain the reason why they don't stamp again. – Mark Johnson Oct 3 '19 at 15:14
  • @MarkJohnson I understand that the statement is from the State Department, but it's still an oversimplification. And the until date is only one purpose of the admission stamp; some stamps don't even have an until date (for those who are admitted for duration of status). My wife has stamps like that, yet always gets a new stamp when she reenters the US from Canada. I mean, the reason you suggest is plausible, but not strictly logical. The US government is not known for employing strict logic in its immigration policy, though, as the statement about the VWP shows. – phoog Oct 3 '19 at 15:29
  • @phoog But the OP's question is about VWP (and not other types) and the quote refers to VWP directly. Some things can be simple and logical. – Mark Johnson Oct 3 '19 at 15:46

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