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I'm soon planning to visit my friend in the United States for a few days. It's been a long while since I last visited US and at that time, the country I am from was not a part of Visa Waiver Program. As a result, I have a B1/B2 visa that's going to be valid during the duration of my visit. I heard that in order to take advantage of VWP, I'd need to apply for ESTA. From the perspective of time-efficiency, what would make more sense? Also, what's the latest I can apply for ESTA?

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    FYI: Your visa shouldn't be valid during your visit, it should only be valid at the time of entry. Your status(B1 or B2 or B1/B2) and allowed period of stay will be defined at the border control as well.
    – Dmitry
    Feb 23, 2023 at 17:32

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Use your visa. You already have a visa, you don't need a waiver nor ESTA.

Entering the US with a visa waiver rather than a visa gives no extra benefit to you than entering with your visa. In fact, the visa allows for a little more freedom than the VWP - a longer stay (up to 180 days instead of 90 days) and the ability to enter the US without having to have pre-booked onward travel.

An ESTA will cost you $21 to apply and is only valid for 2 years. You've already got a valid, paid-for, visa. It doesn't make sense to try to use VWP instead.

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  • Also, visitors entered on visa have greater flexibility to extend the stay or adjust to other status.
    – xngtng
    Feb 23, 2023 at 19:22
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    This is correct and complete, but I would note that when the visa expires, the calculation for most visitors will flip and it'll be more practical to use the VWP with an ESTA than to apply for a new visa.
    – mlc
    Feb 23, 2023 at 21:38

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