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I'm flying to the US in order to participate in a startup acceleration program for 90 days from September. I have an Israeli and German passport.

If I use my German passport in order to enter the US (I've already confirmed it by ESTA, and I've been to the US in May this year), I will have to leave the US in order to reset the VWP.

It's important to add that in the middle of September I will come back home for a family wedding.

What will be the best practice:

  1. Using my German passport with the VWP to enter the US in both times. I'm just not sure my VWP will be reset from flying back home for 4-5 days. If no - it will make me stay in the US more than 90 days and that's something I don't want to.

  2. Try to obtain a visa for Israel's citizens which - if granted - will give me the ability to stay in the US for 6 month by default. My only concern is that I will not receive the visa and that it will hurt my ability to use the German passport and the VWP program.

It's a very specific issue but I'm confused.

  • I am not sure what's best under your circumstances but I think that nothing prevents you from applying for a visa, even if your citizenship makes you eligible for the VWP (i.e. you could use your German passport as well). – Relaxed Aug 9 '14 at 15:50
  • so in the worst case scenario, if The Visa for the Israeli passport will be rejected, I will be able to enter the US under the VWP with the German passport ? – Asaf Nevo Aug 9 '14 at 18:00
  • I don't know. It could be easier to get away with it (or not) but I don't see why it would necessarily make a difference with respect to the requirement of “never having been found ineligible for a US visa”. It certainly wasn't what I meant by my earlier comment. – Relaxed Aug 10 '14 at 15:45
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Generally speaking if you are a citizen of both countries you don't have to receive visa as an Israeli citizen you can receive it as a German citizen for the purpose of visiting Startup Acceleration program.

Secondly even with a B1/B2 visa in your passport your "default stay" doesn't have to granted for 6 months. 6 months is the maximum that it can be granted for by the Border Control officer but they don't have to do it.

Now for the issue at hand.

Which way legal way you choose enter the US makes absolutely no difference to the USCIS as long as you abide by the limitations prescribed by that method. So if you choose to go the VWP/ESTA route you have to abide by the limitations of the program and leave within by the end of the 90 days.

If your schedule will force you to be in the country more then 90 days you should obtain a visa and if you've already used your German Passport to enter the US you might as well continue and obtain a visa using that passport not because using your Israeli passport would be problematic at the US border but because with your German passport you can prove the most important thing that US immigration looks for when granting visas: You leave the country.

  • thanks for the detailed answer. I do agree with what you're saying, although my only concern is that if I won't receive Visa for the German passport, I will not be able to use the VWP program again.. and that something i'm not willing to do.. do you happen to know if in the case of not getting Visa on my Israeli passport - can i still use the VWP ? – Asaf Nevo Aug 10 '14 at 5:25
  • @AsafNevo You should be able to but I don't see a concern about you not receiving a visa since you've already demonstrated with your previous visit that you will go away. – Karlson Aug 11 '14 at 2:25
  • @AsafNevo: Karlson's response to your comment is wrong. If you are found ineligible for a visa you applied for on any passport, you will become ineligible for the VWP on any passport. Furthermore, if you apply for ESTA (on your German passport) and claim you were never denied a visa (because the denial was on your Israeli passport), you may be suspected of fraud: help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1097/kw/… – phoog Nov 20 '15 at 16:49
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It seems pretty clear that going to Germany for any length of time ends your stay in the US; your subsequent entry in the US would be a separate visit. from the ESTA site (https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/1126/kw/esta/session/L3RpbWUvMTQxMDg1MTk3MS9zaWQvUENOeEJ3Mm0%3D):

Your ESTA authorization is generally valid for multiple trips over a period of two years (starting the date that you are approved) or until your passport expires, whichever comes first.

Later:

Receiving ESTA authorization does not mean you may stay in the U.S. for two years. It only allows you to travel to the U.S. under the terms of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which only allows you to stay in the U.S. for 90 days or less. If you plan to stay for longer than 90 days, you must obtain a visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

If you are already planning to go to Germany, you should probably go with option 1: use the German passport.

Note also that if you plan to stay for longer than 90 days (that is, without returning to Germany or going to any other country), you could also apply for the B visa with your German passport rather than your Israeli passport.

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