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I am Australian and planning to travel to the US in November for a month. I will be flying into the US and as part of my trip then driving to Mexico for a week and then back to the US. Can I get a visa waiver for this or because I will be entering from Mexico 'by land' do I need some other sort of visa?

  • Entering by land does not relax or change any visa requirements. – Aditya Somani Jun 25 '14 at 0:55
  • Yeah that makes sense. I was just wondering if leaving and entering by land (driving to Mexico and back) would add any extra requirements? Or can I use the regular visa waiver I got to fly from Australia? – user16871 Jun 25 '14 at 4:53
  • @AdityaSomani entering by land absolutely does change the requirements. When entering by land an ESTA is not required, and an I-94W form needs to be filled in UNLESS you have already entered the US on a VWP within the past 90 days and not left North America in the interim (which will be the case here, so in this case nothing additional is needed - but in a general sense your statement is very wrong) – Doc Jun 26 '14 at 6:28
  • Although not directly related to the question, who's car are you planning to drive into Mexico? Most rental cars will not allow it, and even for private cars there are normally additional insurance requirements. Make sure you've done your research first! – Doc Jun 26 '14 at 6:29
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    @Doc You're right about the I-94 but that is not a visa requirement. That's documentation. Not sure I understand the whole ESTA thing though... – Aditya Somani Jun 26 '14 at 6:39
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In general the requirements for entering the US by land are different than when entering by air. An ESTA is not required, but a completed I94W form is (available at the border).

However in your case as you will be entering the US by air first, you will be given a "visa waiver" stamp in your passport on the initial entry, which will be good for up to 90 days.

For the most part, this stamp will become invalid when you leave the US, however there are exceptions for travel to Canada and Mexico (and a few of the Caribbean islands), such that if you visit those countries then your Visa Waiver stamp remains valid, and thus when you re-enter the US from those countries there is no need to go through any additional formalities.

Specifically in your case, on re-entry to the US from Mexico you will still need to present your passport, which they will scan and confirm that you already have a current visa waiver entry (what used to be a physical "I-94W" card, however they did away with the paper cards several years ago) and they will allow you back into the US without re-stamping your passport, and thus without changing the date on your VWP stamp.

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Your visa waiver that you used to enter the US initially should be fine for returning from Mexico. If your whole trip is only one month long, then you won't need to worry about the fact that the 90 day maximum clock does not stop when you enter Mexico.

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