5

Say I have two passports.

Passport A lets me stay in US for 3 months as a tourist with ESTA.

Passport B has a B1/B2 visa on it which lets me stay in the US for up to 6 months as a tourist.

Passport A is usually more reputable than passport B.

Also as far as I remember, US doesn't check passports when you leave so what matters is the passport you use while entering US.

1- If I want to spend more than 3 months in the US, can I use my passport B?

2- Do I have to apply for ESTA just because I have the passport A even if I use my passport B?

3- Can I use my passport A to enter US but stay for more than 3 months?

4- If I need to use my passport for identification for a legal matter or for banking, do I have to provide the passport I used while entering US?

5- Do banks or government institutions require me to show the passport issued by the same country every time I interact with them, or can I use my passports interchangeably?

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  • 1
    Note that even though there are no physical checks of your passport when exiting by air, your details are sent by the airline to CBP so they can update your I-94 and know you didn't overstay. How they match people using a different passport when they leave is still a mystery, and it's possible in some cases it won't work. It may be a good idea for you to check your I-94 record a few days after you leave to make sure it has been updated.
    – jcaron
    Jan 6 at 23:53
  • What are you going to say if you present passport 'A' and the border agent asks you the intended length of your stay? Jan 7 at 12:02
  • @jcaron how exactly do you use a passport when you're leaving?
    – user125921
    Jan 7 at 12:13
  • 1
    @user125921 "how exactly do you use a passport when you're leaving?": when you leave the US on a commercial flight or ship, you show your passport to the carrier, which transmits the number (along with other data about you) to US authorities. When you cross the land border to Canada, Canadian authorities notify the US of your departure and your passport number. When you cross the land border into Mexico, the US is not notified. The US matches these exit records against entry records. If a match is found, the US authorities can determine the duration of the person's stay in the US.
    – phoog
    Jan 7 at 12:37
  • 2
    Don't gamble with this. Immigration has a very good memory. Jan 8 at 6:51
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If I want to spend more than 3 months in the US, can I use my passport B?

Yes, because your passport B has a visa in it that lets you stay more than 3 months.

Do I have to apply for ESTA just because I have the passport A even if I use my passport B?

No. You only need ESTA If you plan to use the visa waiver program (VWP) to enter the US without a visa. Since you don't plan to do that, you don't need ESTA.

Can I use my passport A to enter US but stay for more than 3 months?

Yes, but only if you get a separate B visa on that passport A. Without a visa in passport A, you can only use passport A under the VWP, in which case you are limited to 90 days (not 3 months).

If I need to use my passport for identification for a legal matter or for banking, do I have to provide the passport I used while entering US?

In general, no. If you need to prove your immigration status rather than just to identify yourself, however, you will probably need to use the passport you used to enter the US as that is the one that will match your I-94 form.

Do banks or government institutions require me to show the passport issued by the same country every time I interact with them, or can I use my passports interchangeably?

This will depend on company or agency policy, which in turn will depend on why they're asking you to identify yourself and on whether they've recorded your document information as a security measure. Some agencies certainly don't care; the TSA is an example. Others might. I recently had trouble cashing a check at my bank because I had forgotten my driver's license and they didn't want to accept my passport as identification because I had never "added it" to my account. The fact that all the biographical data matched and the signature matched the one I had on file with the bank was not sufficient.

I suspect, however, that you are overestimating the adverse impact of using the less reputable passport. If I were you I'd probably just use it exclusively to keep things simple.

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  • My wife has had bank trouble with her passport but a manager made them see sense--it was just a case of humans who didn't want to deal with the unusual. (And that was with a US passport. I'd hate to see what would have happened had it been a few years earlier before she was naturalized!) Jan 7 at 2:14
  • @LorenPechtel in this case I had a non-US passport with me. I don't remember how I resolved it in the end, but it certainly wasn't through the use of that passport. Still, the teller indicated that I could use the passport if I went through the formal process of "adding" it to my account. I didn't pursue that because I assumed that it would require the driver's license that I didn't have with me, or if it didn't that it would at least require more time than I wanted to spend on it. I suspect that banks see more non-US passports than US ones.
    – phoog
    Jan 7 at 12:45
3

I think that @phoog's answer is excellent already, I don't want to dilute, but this doesn't easily fit into a comment:

Can I use my passport A to enter US but stay for more than 3 months?

No.

If you want to change the purpose of your visit while in the United States, you (or in some cases your employer) must file a request with USCIS on the appropriate form before your authorized stay expires. [...]

You may not apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program

Source: USCIS - Change My Nonimmigrant Status

If you entered the US with a VWP passport, you have to leave before your 90 days expire. No exception.

(as @phoog says, if you get a B visa on the "reputable" passport, then yes; but then, you wouldn't be using VWP to enter).

Rule of thumb: don't gamble with immigration.

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    Good point. I had this in mind when I wrote "in which case you are limited to 90 days" but it's definitely worthwhile to be more explicit about the inability to extend one's stay under the VWP.
    – phoog
    Jan 8 at 8:19

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