My boyfriend is coming in 6 days from Australia on the Visa Waiver Program. He just finished college and is going to get a job most likely painting/ painting apprentice as that's what he went to college for. We're wondering if it's okay to say that he's a self employed painter. He has found random jobs and painted before a bunch of times. His dad is a self employed painter and he's painted with him as well. He isn't going to lie to border patrol. So would putting a self employed painter be alright or would that be a lie?

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    If you asked him what he did would he say he's a self employed painter? If his parents asked him would he say he's a self employed painter? If a stranger asked him would he say he's a self employed painter?
    – user253751
    Nov 14 '19 at 17:05
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    They have probably heard the "self employed" one before, which can mean anything from "unemployed" to someone who runs a successful painting business. He might need some hard facts to back it up. Nov 14 '19 at 17:28
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    If they ask how long he’s been doing that, and what income it gives him, what will he say? The best advice is typically ‘tell the truth, keep it simple, and don’t volunteer anything unless specifically asked about it’. In your previous question you said he’d enrolled in the job seeker programme and would be giving that as a reason to go back. Which is correct?
    – Traveller
    Nov 14 '19 at 17:50
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    Did self-employed work compose a significant fraction of the income he'll be reporting on his taxes in 2019? Nov 14 '19 at 19:27
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    ALWAYS be honest. "currently unemployed as I just finished studying. When I return I'll be looking for apprentice work as a painter". They may ask how he's paying for the vacation.
    – Midavalo
    Nov 15 '19 at 0:18

There's no reason to mention self employed, you can just put "Painter" as the job title. What CBP would mainly want to know, if at all, is if your boyfriend intends to work while in the USA or if he intends to overstay his visa. To help strengthen his case, have proof of a return ticket to provide them with. That can help show intent in case your boyfriend gets questioned. If he has any paycheck receipts, or university/training certificates he could bring copies of those, just in case. Most people traveling on tourist visas do not usually bring such things.

Keep in mind, on the Visa Wavier Program he can stay up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes.


The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business (visitor visa purposes) for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program. VWP travelers are required to apply for authorization though the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA), are screened at their port of entry into the United States, and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program

In the comments you mention your boyfriend is a house painter. FYI, there is a O'NET job code for this 47-2141.00 - Painters, Construction and Maintenance career, identified by the US Department of Labor and Training Administration. So it s definitely a known career field.

47-2141.00 - Paint walls, equipment, buildings, bridges, and other structural surfaces, using brushes, rollers, and spray guns. May remove old paint to prepare surface prior to painting. May mix colors or oils to obtain desired color or consistency.

Sample of reported job titles: Facilities Painter, Foreman, Highway Painter, House Painter, Industrial Painter, Journeyman Painter, Maintenance Painter, Painter, Painter Foreman, Senior Painter

  • He paints houses! And thank you for the information! Nov 15 '19 at 14:45
  • @FeliciaKennedy okay, then he would be under a different ONET code, like this one onetonline.org/link/summary/47-2141.00
    – AussieJoe
    Nov 15 '19 at 16:18
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    I would be very cautious about taking qualification certificates - it may cause the immigration agent to think that your boyfriend is intending to work in the US
    – CSM
    Nov 16 '19 at 15:01
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    Mention O*Net to immigration and he's headed to secondary, with a very good chance that he gets refused entry. Even knowing what an O*Net code is is a very strong indication that he's planning to work in the US.
    – Doc
    Nov 24 '19 at 3:37

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