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My daughter, an adult UK citizen/passport holder, has been accepted for a 1 month ballet "summer intensive" at a US Ballet Academy, and it runs from 3rd July in Orlando, Florida. Some people are telling me a student visa might be needed (M-1) because she might be classified as learning. Others say an ESTA will be fine as it is effectively a recreational activity, a kind of ballet camp. She will not be paid and gets no qualification at the end of it. I contacted the Embassy but they said they can't advise, only interview for a Visa if applied for.

Any thoughts welcomed. Thanks.

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    She will not be paid and gets no qualification at the end of it. - so... for fun then?
    – littleadv
    May 20 at 17:26
  • Will she get any sort of academic credit (even if only recognized in the U.S.) from the course?
    – xngtng
    May 20 at 17:43
  • Sounds like a training course, which I believe is allowed for under the VWP
    – Midavalo
    May 20 at 19:47
  • Research the terms and limits of the Visa Waiver Program, which is the program that allows visa-free entry for what is normally called "going on an ESTA". May 20 at 22:19

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As a practical matter, your daughter, if she travels to the US for a month, earns no money, and flies home (or at least out of the US) afterwards is not likely to run into any trouble if she travels under the Visa Waiver Program.

One of the activities which is explicitly allowed under a tourist visa or the visa waiver program is:

enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

which seems to match very closely with your daughter's proposed activities.

If there is any doubt, it might be wise to contact the school where your daughter will be studying to seek their advice.

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  • Many thanks that’s useful. I’ll try the academy too. There are no formal credits in the us or uk. I think they get one of those certificates of completion which mean nothing apart from a memory of the trip. It is just an opportunity to meet other dancers, see other styles, enjoy another culture in the field and also visit Disneyland. My only concern is that it’s a 30 day course, not 2-3 days, but I don’t think they define “short”. Thanks.
    – Rob
    May 21 at 18:21

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