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I am a EU national going to the US for a conference. No visa, just the ESTA. When going back to Europe, specifically France, I will have a 17-hour-long layover in Newark: my first flight arrives in Newark at 1am and then my second flight leaves from there at 6pm.

Will it be possible for me to leave the airport and visit NYC? I know that the two cities are pretty close and well-connected, but I never flew outside of the EU so I am not familiar with going through immigration, customs, or generally having to take out my passport and prove my right to be or go anywhere and I don't know if my movement as a foreign national will be restricted while in the US.

I found this website but it's not very clear whether the author's experience was exceptional or if it's normally allowed.

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    If you attending a conference in the US before arriving in Newark, then there will be no Immigration checks (as apposed to the article) on arrival (a domestic flight) Your luggage will probably be sent on to the next flight. Take you passport with you. Otherwise as written in the article. Mar 29, 2023 at 20:01
  • My flights are Paris-Frankfurt-Chicago, then conference, then Chicago-Newark-Paris.
    – kmf
    Mar 29, 2023 at 20:04
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    The Article was about someone arriving in the US (from Lima, Peru) in Newark. Your are arriving from Chicago, which is a domestic flight. So that part of the article doesn't apply to you. Mar 29, 2023 at 20:09
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    @xngtng indeed, if something goes wrong, it's possible to be stuck under the Hudson for an hour. I think the train is safer than driving in this regard but either could be problematic.
    – phoog
    Mar 29, 2023 at 21:56
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    Your luggage will almost certainly NOT be checked through to the next flight. You will need to collect it at EWR and will not be able to check it in again until a few hours before your next flight.
    – Doc
    Mar 30, 2023 at 2:19

2 Answers 2

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You should make sure that your baggage is checked through and can remain in the airport overnight, other than that and the fact that you'll be wondering around Newark and NYC in the middle of the night - I see no issues.

It will take you about half an hour to get to the city with a taxi, back would probably be better to take a train because of the mid-day traffic. I suggest maybe get an hotel to sleep for the night close to the airport and then take a train to the city in the morning.

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    In principle I could wait at the airport until I feel comfortable taking a train and then go around visiting NYC, and come back around 3pm so that I arrive at the airport before 4pm and I can do all my checking in and stuff. Right?
    – kmf
    Mar 30, 2023 at 14:15
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    yeah, you probably could
    – littleadv
    Mar 30, 2023 at 17:20
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    you'll be wondering around Newark and NYC in the middle of the night => if OP goes to Manhattan (anywhere below 96th street), they'd be completely fine. It's probably the safest urban area in all of the US, even at night.
    – JonathanReez
    Apr 12, 2023 at 15:27
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It doesn't sound like you need to worry about visa issues.

You will need to retrieve your luggage after you arrive in EWR. You may prefer to store some of it in the airport, rather than take it to NYC. Luggage Hero is OK - EWR may have other choices for that.

If you want to spend some of your 17 hours sleeping comfortably, you may want to rent a hotel room either in New Jersey (cheaper) or in Manhattan (more fun). I might just forgo sleep in your situation, but more likely I'd book a nice hotel in Manhattan, take a taxi there from EWR around 2-3am, rest a few hours, then hang out in Manhattan (make a list of things to see and do in advance), then head back to EWR in the afternoon - maybe as early as 2-3pm to beat the afternoon rush hour traffic, retrieve and check in the luggage, go through TSA security (sometimes that's an hour+ wait).

Mass transit (Airtrain + NJ transit to/from EWR; subway around Manhattan) is cheaper than a taxi, and more predictable. Taxi get stuck in traffic.

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