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I am a British citizen visiting the USA in early August for a two week vacation with friends. After the holiday I'm returning to my home in the UK for three weeks. After that I will return to the USA and will be working for my British employer under the Visa Waiver Program for a period of 80-85 days.

I have read already that there is technically no problems with this under ESTA rules, but should I limit this working period to a shorter time frame (e.g. 70 or so days) so that it does not negatively affect the decision made by the POE officer? Ideally I would love to be over in the states for the near-full 85 day period.

Any advice or previous experiences anyone can offer?

Some clarifications: As confirmed by the immigration attorney, as I am employed by my UK employer, it will be regarded as a business trip, the important part being that I will be working officially as a consultant for my UK employer just overseas for the allotted 85 or so days

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    I don't think you are allowed to work underneath the VWP program. Please check - UK citizen, US company, living in UK: Can I use an ESTA? – Aditya Somani Jul 6 '14 at 16:38
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    I think you should be OK but I don't really know. In any case, it will be either 90 days (i.e. the trip back to England count as leaving permanently and you get another 90 days on the second entry) or about 50 days (i.e. 90 days from the first entry). I don't think there is any way your first 14 or so days would be counted without also counting the 3 weeks in England. – Relaxed Jul 6 '14 at 17:01
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    Original poster Geo here, sorry I should have added that I definitely do not need to consider the visa option, as there is a VWP for business program. This has been confirmed by an immigration attorney for me, so the ESTA is the option I am following. – Geo Jul 6 '14 at 17:18
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    @AdityaSomani The point is that he's employed in the UK but will temporarily be performing his duties in the USA. For example, you're allowed to attend conferences on VWP and your UK employer doesn't have to stop paying you for the time you're in the USA. I'm not sure where the cut-off is (Geo's lawyer is, though!) but the situation is more complicated than you were aware of. – David Richerby Jul 6 '14 at 21:29
  • @DavidRicherby I see. I just wanted to make sure that Geo was aware of the same. It was slightly ambiguous in the question. I would consider Geo's trip as a business trip in that case as well, not a job. :) – Aditya Somani Jul 6 '14 at 21:30
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+50

The US does not use the 90-in-180 day rule that is used in the Schengen area and by many other countries. Instead, once you have left North America (to include Canada, Mexico and various Caribbean islands) and/or returned to your home country, when you return to the US -- even if it is the next day! -- you can be admitted for another 90-day stay.

The catch is that on your subsequent entry you may be scrutinized more carefully. CBP is looking for people who are trying to game the system and covertly live in the United States. So you should carry all of the documents needed to show that this is a legitimate business trip, essentially the same as if you were applying for a visa. If your purpose is legitimate and the CBP officer is satisfied, you will be admitted.

  • If the previous trip was only for two weeks and they left the US three months ago, it's highly unlikely the OP will get any extra scrutiny. – lambshaanxy Apr 9 '15 at 2:42
  • @jpatokal The OP said three weeks, not three months. – Michael Hampton Apr 9 '15 at 2:52
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    Oops, you're right, but I can't edit my comment anymore. My opinion remains the same though, that's not a suspicious travel pattern. – lambshaanxy Apr 9 '15 at 3:35
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    @jpatokal Perhaps not, but I still want to make the point for the hundreds of other people who will read this, wanting to make two trips to the US in a short time period. For some of those, their travel patterns will be suspicious in exactly this way. – Michael Hampton Apr 9 '15 at 3:36
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    @pnuts I'm not surprised. A few months ago CBP deleted a lot of useful information from their web site, and they haven't yet restored any of it. The rules have not changed, though. – Michael Hampton Oct 4 '16 at 21:02

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