6

We have an intern volunteering with us in Mexico, traveling on a New Zealand passport. She arrived in Mexico (via LAX) in mid-June, with plans on returning to NZ (via LAX) in mid-Sept, which meant she could travel through the US each end, and on a couple of sight-seeing trips in between, within the 90 days allowed on the Visa Waiver Program.

She would now like to stay for a further 2-3 months, looking at returning to NZ in November or early December.

Now she is staying with us in Mexico, and has only been in the US a total of 4 days in the almost 2 months she's been here, but under VWP the clock keeps running, correct? She has a 4-5 day trip to Las Vegas booked before her (original) flight back to NZ, but now would like to return to Mexico after that trip.

What are her options for extending her trip, where she is primarily staying in Mexico, without breaching the VWP 90 day rules?

Note : she has entered Mexico via the land border so there is no record of her departure from the US to Mexico.

11
  • Go home via a different route?
    – Traveller
    Aug 10 at 21:41
  • Why would her US VWP clock be running when she's not in the US?
    – littleadv
    Aug 10 at 21:54
  • @littleadv short visits to Mexico, Canada and a number of nearby islands don’t reset the 90-day clock for VWP visits, to avoid visa runs. But the key word here is “short”.
    – jcaron
    Aug 10 at 21:58
  • @jcaron where are you getting the word "short" from? It is not in the regulation that establishes this practice, 8 CFR 217.3(b).
    – phoog
    Aug 10 at 22:25
  • @jcaron I think the point is to prevent visa runs, the CBP most certainly has the authority to reset the clock
    – littleadv
    Aug 10 at 22:35

2 Answers 2

8

but under VWP the clock keeps running, correct?

No. Someone who has been in Mexico (or Canada or the Caribbean) may be readmitted for the balance of their original 90-day admission. But they can also be given a new 90-day admission, and, if they enter more than 90 days after the first admission, that is the only way they can be admitted under the VWP.

What are her options for extending her trip, where she is primarily staying in Mexico, without breaching the VWP 90 day rules?

Just transit through the US when she's ready to go back to New Zealand.

3
  • Thanks. I have added a note that may be relevant - she has entered Mexico via the land border so there is no record of her departure from the US to Mexico.
    – Midavalo
    Aug 11 at 0:52
  • @Midavalo She might now buy something in Mexico with a credit card and keep the receipt, so that when she next enters the US she has some evidence when she departed. Aug 11 at 1:14
  • 1
    When I went from Seattle to Vancouver, then by air to CDMX and from there to DFW, I got a new admission even though only 3 days had passed since I left the US, and the officer placed the new stamp right next to the old one (from 10 days earlier).
    – JakeDot
    Aug 11 at 10:13
4

Short visits to adjacent countries and neighbouring islands do not reset the VWP clock. The goal is to avoid visa runs, where someone using the VWP would come to the US, stay nearly 90 days, hop across the border for a couple of days (or hours), and come back for another nearly-90-day stay (rinse and repeat).

Longer visits will reset the clock and the visitor will get a new 90-day limit.

The difficulty is that contrary to some other rules which are extremely precise (like the Schengen 90/180 day rule), “short” and “long” are left to the appreciation of the CBP officer stamping the visitor in.

But in your case I don’t think there’s any doubt at all given the numbers involved.

Don’t know the precise dates, but even without the short/long distinction, it is likely that even if her next stay in the US is still counted in her original I-94 (which is very unlikely IMHO, and which can be checked by looking at the stamp as well as the I-94 site after her admission), when she leaves after that and comes back months later she will definitely be out of the original limit, so she should get a new I-94.

We’ve had similar questions which where edge cases, but here it should really take a very angry CBP officer for her to have any issue.

8
  • 1
    Thanks. Something that might be relevant is that she has entered Mexico via the land border so there is no record of her departure from the US to Mexico.
    – Midavalo
    Aug 11 at 0:46
  • 2
    she might want to document that in some way (ask Mexican immigration to stamp the passport for example)
    – littleadv
    Aug 11 at 0:52
  • 1
    Even if the Mexican authorities transmitted data, they'd need to have collected it in the first place. I'm doubting that's the case, most of the time they don't even seem to look at passports.
    – JakeDot
    Aug 11 at 10:28
  • 2
    @JakeDot, Mexico doesn't necessarily inspect people visiting the border zone for a short time but if you are staying more than 72 hours you are supposed to seek out immigration for approval (and to pay for the FMM?). Mexico still uses stamps, so if you claim a long stay in Mexico the CBP will probably expect to see one.
    – Dennis
    Aug 11 at 19:21
  • 1
    @Dennis Except that in Baja (maybe elsewhere) your FMM is multi-entry, so you can enter the US and re-enter Baja without having to get a new FMM. So our intern's FMM is dated mid-June when she first entered Mexico. We could certainly try to get them to re-issue the FMM or re-stamp the passport though
    – Midavalo
    Aug 12 at 13:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.