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My daughter (German nationality) is currently studying at a US high school. After the end of the program we want to travel in the US. The duration of this vacation will probably exceed the expiration date of the J-1 and the grace period, but only for a few days. (Reason: school holidays differ between the US and Germany). What are the options? Extension of J-1 (through I-539) could be one, but 370 USD for maybe 2, 3 or 5 days appears rather unproportional.

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    You could instead see it as 370 USD to avoid a travel ban to the US for your daughter...
    – dda
    Commented Feb 26 at 12:55
  • So you would want a grace period for the grace period?
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 26 at 13:51
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    @dda: There wouldn't be a ban because 1) people under 18 do not accrue unlawful presence for that ban, 2) J-1 people are most likely admitted for "D/S", not a date, so do not start accruing unlawful presence, and 3) unlawful presence of less than 180 days and then leaving the US does not trigger a ban.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 26 at 17:12
  • @user102008 would it risk an ESTA application though? Commented Feb 27 at 7:14
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    @Leaderboard: There's no rule that being out of status on a non-VWP entry bars you from using VWP in the future. But you would have to disclose the violation when asked on the ESTA, and chances are good that they will deny you an ESTA.
    – user102008
    Commented Feb 27 at 16:01

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You wouldn't actually extend your daughter's J-1 but apply to change her status to B-2. The form and the fee are the same, however.

Another possibility is to travel outside the US and reenter using the Visa Waiver Program (i.e., with ESTA). There's a chance that she would be denied entry, but I suspect that chance is pretty small since she's a minor, you're all on vacation together, and you're planning to leave in the near future.

I don't think there are any other options. Depending on the size of your family and your travel plans, a detour to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean might be more costly than the extension application.

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    A shorter holiday, staying within the grace period seems a logical solution to me.
    – Willeke
    Commented Feb 27 at 15:12
  • @Willeke indeed. Another option would be to continue the holiday outside the US and not return, for example by flying back to Germany from Canada or indeed anywhere else. A direct flight would obviously be a better bet than one with a transit through the US, but it is exceedingly unlikely that anyone would be turned back in the middle of a transit under these circumstances, even an adult traveling alone (unless of course the officer suspects that the transit is a ruse, but that's a pretty elaborate ruse for someone who could have just overstayed the J-1 to start with).
    – phoog
    Commented Feb 27 at 17:18

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