Sorry if this is a bit long, my situation is somewhat complicated.

I used to have dual Croatian and Bosnian citizenship. I went to the US once in 2007 and again in 2017, each time applying for and being granted a tourist visa. Since 2019, I have been a dual German and Croatian citizen, after renouncing my Bosnian citizenship (same year).

I'm about to travel to the US again (well, hopefully) in three days. German citizens can travel to the US without a visa through the VWP, so I applied for an ESTA. I fell for one of those scam sites, and while it wasn't too expensive, I'm worried about them having my passport information. However, if I decide to deactivate my passport and apply for a new one, I won't get it in time for the trip, and definitely not in time for a new ESTA application. The application should be submitted 72 hours before the flight, there are less than 72 hours remaining even now (one of the reasons I fell for the scam was because I was in a rush to submit it in the last minute).

The other option would be to use my still valid Croatian passport. While I did apply for a tourist visa in 2017, and it is valid until 2027, it was in my old Croatian passport. In 2022 I got a new one, and this one does not have the visa. I read online (unsure about the veracity of this) that visa do not expire with the passport they are attached to.

Could I use my old Croatian passport with the visa from 2017 to travel to the US? Is the visa in my old passport tied to my trip in 2017, or can I still use it freely until 2027?

I did, after I realized the scam, immediately apply for an ESTA with the proper site (it was actually just approved while writing this). Will that cause an issue, if I now decide to use my Croatian passport instead, effectively not using the ESTA system at all?

Any other options for me here? Or do I need to risk travelling with the compromised passport?


Another question. I just read that some sites don't actually "scam", but just charge extra, but still result in you receiving a valid ESTA approval. If that is the case, would it conflict with the ESTA application I submitted myself, afterwards? Is there a consequence to applying twice?

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    Unexpired visa in an expired passport is fine. Just bring both (old & new). There is no requirement to use an ESTA if you have it. When doubling up on an ESTA, the latest one wins:, i.e. when the 2nd one gets issued, the first one gets cancelled. In your case, just use the existing Visa, that's what its for and gives you more rights at immigration.
    – Hilmar
    Commented Jun 24 at 11:41

1 Answer 1


Croatian citizens have been eligible for ESTA since December 1, 2021, so even if you did not have a visa, you could use your new Croatian passport to apply for ESTA.

However, since you do have a valid visa issued in your old Croatian passport, you should not apply for ESTA with your new Croatian passport. ESTA enables you to travel under the visa waiver program, but you do not need a waiver because you have a valid visa.

Instead, you should travel with both passports: the valid one and the expired one that contains the valid visa. As to veracity, here is what the US government itself has to say about it (from the FAQ page About Visas - The Basics):

My old passport has already expired. My visa to travel to the United States is still valid but in my expired passport. Do I need to apply for a new visa with my new passport?

No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports, as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country. When you arrive at the U.S. port-of-entry (POE, generally an airport or land border) the Customs and Border Protection Immigration Officer will check your visa in the old passport and if s/he decides to admit you into the United States they will stamp your new passport with an admission stamp along with the annotation "VIOPP" (visa in other passport). Do not try to remove the visa from your old passport and stick it into the new valid passport. If you do so, your visa will no longer be valid.

If you do decide to use the visa, I would recommend presenting the two Croatian passports together to the US immigration officer, with the old one open to the visa page and the new one open to the main data page, to help the officer recognize more quickly that you are applying for admission with a B visa rather than through the VWP.

Sretan put!

Also see Frequently Asked Questions about the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA):

Do I need to apply for ESTA if...?

I have a current, valid visa?

Individuals who possess a valid visa will still be able to travel to the United States on that visa for the purpose for which it was issued. Individuals traveling on valid visas are not required to apply for an ESTA authorization.

You also ask:

I just read that some sites don't actually "scam", but just charge extra, but still result in you receiving a valid ESTA approval. If that is the case, would it conflict with the ESTA application I submitted myself, afterwards? Is there a consequence to applying twice?

It's perfectly fine to have a valid ESTA and a valid visa. In your case this would mean that you can choose to travel with the visa by using your Croatian passports or with the ESTA using your German passport. You can even have a valid ESTA for each of your passports (though CBP recommends against it to avoid the possibility of confusion and delay).

As Hilmar notes in a comment, application for a subsequent ESTA should result in cancellation of any prior ESTA authorization for the same passport. But I would recommend, if you have submitted more than one, to double check before traveling that at least one of them is still valid. You shouldn't really need to keep track of which one it is.

As Hilmar also notes, a traveler with a visa has more rights than a visa waiver traveler. The only rights that are likely to matter are the period of admission (a default of six months vs. an absolute limit of 90 days) and being able to apply to extend or change your nonimmigrant status without having to leave the country. These rights matter to very few tourists.

(The most prominent right that matters to almost nobody is the right to demand a hearing before an immigration judge if you are refused entry or identified for removal -- i.e., deportation. Most tourists won't be in either category, and most of the few who are will be unlikely to want to challenge the decision before an immigration judge.)

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    Thanks! I did not know that Croatia was part of the VWP. That is definitely good to know for the future, although I sincerely hope not to end up in a situation like this again... For now, I'll go with my old visa. Commented Jun 24 at 13:42
  • This answer doesn't match my experience (but my case was slightly different). I'm a dual citizen. I had an expired passport from country A with a valid B1 Visa for the USA. I had my valid passport from country B, without the Visa. I was denied boarding and lost a flight. Maybe not the same since my passports were not from the same country, or maybe the airline made a mistake. Commented Jun 25 at 11:00
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    @MartinEpsz mixed passports won't work, your case is travel.stackexchange.com/questions/173427/…
    – tevemadar
    Commented Jun 25 at 11:10
  • 1
    @MartinEpsz note that the first quotation in this answer, which is from a US State Department webpage, includes the requirement "Both passports (the valid and the expired one with the visa) should be from the same country." The airline did not make a mistake.
    – phoog
    Commented Jun 25 at 12:16

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