I am Australian and traveling on an Australian passport. My current ESTA expires in September 2015. My 90 day VWP will be up at the end of June. I have spent the whole 90 days in both Arizona or Oregon with friends. I plan to head to Canada to visit my family again, or to go to Mexico to stay with friends. (I have been 'on the road' from Australia since Dec 2012). I would like to then come back to the US for some more travel and visits.

How long do I need to be in either Canada or Mexico before I can come back into the US....for maybe two months?

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    It used to be that going to Canada or Mexico wasn't enough as the US counted you as still in the US for visa purposes. I heard that they wanted to add some Central American countries to this list too. I don't know how up to date this is though ... Commented May 29, 2014 at 22:03
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    @hippietrail: Certainly still true for Canada and Mexico, and all Caribbean islands, but nothing further south of Mexico at this time. Commented May 29, 2014 at 23:16

2 Answers 2


The problem is that on the VWP, you have is that the 90 day limit doesn't reset if you visit Mexico or Canada - see other questions on the site - eg. 90 Day rule on the US Visa Waiver Program not expiring if you go to Canada

To reset it properly you'd need to travel further afield - there's more information on the CBP website.

The main goal they have is to ensure you aren't visa-running to allow yourself to stay in the US for work/indefinitely, which is part of the reason they've set these rules up.

It is possible to briefly pass through again eg if you're flying through Los Angeles to Sydney, but it's up to you to convince them that you're just passing through, not trying to get in again, unfortunately.

The only other possible option I can see is that you try and get a different tourist visa for a longer period - for example, the B2 Tourist visa.

  • Note that the target of the "more information" link no longer mentions anything about trips to Canada or Mexico and their effect or lack thereof on the 90-day clock. Instead, that page discusses the 2016 changes to the VWP whereby travelers who have visited certain countries, or are nationals of some of those countries, are ineligible for the program. Information about trips to Canada, Mexico, and "nearby islands" is still available at travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/….
    – phoog
    Commented May 3, 2016 at 19:37

Technically neither Canada or Mexico reset the VWP, so it doesn't matter how long you're there for - you will still need to convince the customs and border protection officer that you're not trying to cheat the system:

If you go to Canada and Mexico or the Caribbean, and while you are there, your initial 90-day period of entry expires, but you need to come back in to the U.S. to fly home, you may encounter a problem. The terms of the VWP are very clear - it is only to be used for occasional, short visits to the U.S. If the CBP Officer thinks you are trying to "reset" the clock by making a short trip out of the U.S. and re-entering for another 90-day period, you can be denied entry. (If that happens, you will have to obtain a visa for any future travel to the U.S.) In order to be re-admitted to the U.S. shortly after a previous admission expired, you will have to convince a CBP Officer that you are not trying to "game" the system.

However, outside of those two (plus the Caribbean countries), returning to the US from another country will let you reset the VWP:

If you visit other countries such as England or Costa Rica, then return to the U.S., your re-entry will be considered to be a new admission (thereby restarting the 90 day clock), rather than a re-entry from a contiguous country in the course of your initial visit, and the admission inspection may be more strenuous. The Officer inspecting you will want evidence that you intend to go back home to your country of citizenship to live as opposed to returning again and again to the U.S. after visits to other countries.

They do note at the end there that you may have a burden of proof to show that you don't plan to/are not using the VWP to reside in the US and intend to return back to Australia in your case.



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