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I am a Dutch citizen and am currently staying in Florida to visit my girlfriend for 3 months. I have now booked a flight to Curaçao. Curacao is part of the Caribbean, but it is Dutch territory, so in short it is my own country because I am from the Netherlands. If I travel to Curaçao and return, will my ESTA be reset?

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  • If you have good reason to be in US yes. But with US immigration things are not automatic: you get question and the immigration officer must be convinced that you stay with the rules of ESTA (so with limit of the purpose for your stay). Legit, but you get questions Feb 20 at 15:09
  • The only reason is that my girlfriend lives here , i never had problems with the US immigration. I just need to be sure that if i leave to curacao and come back to the usa my esta will reset. Feb 20 at 15:14
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    It's not your ESTA that's reset, it's your I-94. Your ESTA is valid for 2 years.
    – dda
    Feb 20 at 15:27
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    "in short it is my own country". No it's not. Curacao is a separate country from the Netherlands; part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands but nonetheless a separate country. Even Dutch passport holders are only permitted 180 days visa free entry. Feb 20 at 19:10
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    @DJClayworth the people of Curaçao are Dutch passport holders. It's not as simple as "Curaçao is a separate country"; Dutch nationals from Europe have to meet similar requirements to move to Bonaire, St Eustatius or Saba as to Curaçao even though Bonaire, St Eustatius and Saba aren't separate countries. But none of this is relevant to the question because going to Curaçao has the same effect for a VWP traveler regardless of nationality, and going to (e.g.) Trinidad would have the same effect for a Dutch national as going to Curaçao.
    – phoog
    Feb 21 at 9:58

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When you are in the US under the Visa Waiver Program, short trips to Canada, Mexico, and "adjacent islands" will result in you being re-admitted under your original I-94.

Per 8 USC 1101(b)(5):

(5) The term “adjacent islands” includes Saint Pierre, Miquelon, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Bermuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Jamaica, the Windward and Leeward Islands, Trinidad, Martinique, and other British, French, and Netherlands territory or possessions in or bordering on the Caribbean Sea.

(emphasis mine)

Curaçao falls into that category, so no, it will not "reset the clock", and will very clearly be seen as an attempt to make a "visa run".

The maximum duration of stay under the VWP is 90 days. While there is no strict rule preventing you from accumulating multiple stays of up to 90 days each, generally visitors should not use successive or repeated stays to live in the US. The official rule of thumb is that you must stay out as long as you stayed in.

So you are very likely to:

  • At best be re-admitted under the original I-94, for the remainder of the 90 days, if you come back within 90 days of your original arrival in the US
  • At worst be denied entry and sent back

Note that even if you go further (e.g. back to Europe), while the first option will not be possible, you could still be refused entry if you come back too soon. Whether that will happen is in the hands of CBP, based on your previous travel history (how much time you have spent in the US), your ability to justify your situation (you are not living or working in the US, and you have a reason to go back home, like a job), and more.

If you want to stay longer than 90 days, up to 180 days (but still not live in the US, you must remain a visitor, so you must be in the US less than half of the year), you should apply for a B-2 visa.

If you want to stay even longer, then you need to apply for an immigrant visa.

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    @mattaniahnzomambu You are of course leaving the US when you go to Curaçao, independent of the fact that you are a Dutch citizen or if Curaçao is Dutch territory. However, exactly to prevent what you are now trying to do, the US won't give VWP visitor new, fresh 90 days of stay if you have just made a short trip out of the US and right away try to reenter. Feb 20 at 17:11
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    @mattaniahnzomambu The law says that even if you leave the US, if you travel only to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands, you may be re-admitted under the existing I-94. The only exception is if you are a resident of that specific place.
    – jcaron
    Feb 20 at 17:11
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    The word "will" in the first sentence should be "may," or at least "probably will." @Traveller it is not correct to say that it is not leaving per the legal definition under US law. It affects the terms of readmission if one seeks readmission during the 90 days after an I-94 was initially issued, but in every legal sense, someone who is in "contiguous territory or an adjacent island" is outside the US.
    – phoog
    Feb 21 at 10:01
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    @Midavalo DJClayworth's comment under the question is not particularly relevant, because the entire question of nationality and the status of Curaçao within the kingdom is irrelevant. A VWP traveler who goes to Curaçao and returns to the US will be treated differently depending on whether they reside in Curaçao, not depending on their nationality. The same is true of other parts of the Dutch Caribbean, French Caribbean, etc.
    – phoog
    Feb 21 at 10:05
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    @mattaniahnzomambu That wasn’t clear (at all, IMHO) from your question or subsequent comments. In that case the risk of a refusal is indeed much lower, but as always depends on the rest of your circumstances (past travel history to the US, ties to your home country, means of subsistence, not working in the US, etc.)
    – jcaron
    Feb 21 at 16:13

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