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I am in the process of negotiating with my company to send me to New York on an E-3 visa (Visa for Australians). I know that I can only enter 10 days prior to the start date and must exit within 10 days of the end.

I wish to do a road trip at the end of the contract which will last longer than 10 days. Is it possible to fly up to Canada and exit the USA within the 10 days after my visa expires and then re-enter on a tourist visa? I would be able to show a flight showing I am leaving the US 3 weeks later.

  • My only thoughts (1) it's extremely common to "pop out" of the US (carib. or can.) to come back in, hence getting more time on a visa or a new tourist visa. (2) I'm pretty sure there's a "place you can go to" in US cities and sort of have your visa converted to an ordinary tourism visa, since this is common. (3) apropos of (1), in the US "anything can happen" and the situation changes often. it's not switzerland. – Fattie Aug 17 '14 at 14:18
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Since Australia participates in the Visa Waiver Program, you should be able to enter the USA as a tourist from Canada.

To be on the safe side, you may want to stay in Canada for a week or so. I would make sure to only enter the USA after the E-3 visa has expired. You may not want to be confronted by an immigration officer wondering why you are entering the USA under the Visa Waiver Program and with an about-to-expire E-3 visa.

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You may not need to go to Canada. There is an application to "extend or change" nonimmigrant status: http://www.uscis.gov/visit-united-states/change-my-nonimmigrant-status-category/change-my-nonimmigrant-status.

There is a list of visa categories that are ineligible for this; E visas are not listed. See http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/C2en.pdf.

From that document, you can learn that to change into B-2 status, you need to file form I-539. To change into B-2 status, you can file your application electronically: http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis.

According to the instructions (http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-539instr.pdf), the filing fee is $290. It might be better to spend the money on a trip to Canada!

Another factor is processing time: "The current processing time for all Form I-539s is 2.5 months." (http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis/e-filing-using-uscis-elis)

  • The processing time is NOT a factor! Once you have received confirmation that the application to change status has been received then you can legally remain in the country. If it is approved, then you're good. If it is rejected, then you've still had 2.5 months (or more) of legal status! – Doc May 9 '15 at 4:48
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... must exit within 10 days of the end.

Not so, a common myth, you must exit immediately. At http://www.uscis.gov/tools/ombudsman-liaison/practical-immigration-consequences-foreign-workers-slowing-economy we read:

"Similar to H-1B nonimmigrants, E, L, O and P nonimmigrants are no longer considered to be maintaining valid status as of the day their petitioned for employment has been terminated. The law and regulations do not provide a grace period for E, L, O, and P nonimmigrants whose employment has been terminated, so once the individual is no longer in a lawful nonimmigrant status, he/she usually must depart from the United States."

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    According to this official US government page, the 10-day period is not a myth: canberra.usembassy.gov/e3visa/additional.html. Granted, the US government sometimes doesn't know what they're talking about, but in this case, I suppose they do. – phoog May 6 '15 at 20:15
  • The site you cite is an embassy site. These are often notoriously out of date, and the information in one country is often at odds with that of another. The embassy (consulate) has a part to play in you getting a visa, which is permission to apply for entry at the border. The determination as to your entry, for how long, and your exit if visa conditions change, is made by USCIS. – Craig Welch May 9 '15 at 0:16
  • And that is, in turn, controlled by CFR Title 8, Chapter 1, Subchapter B, Part 214, §214.2, which states that "A beneficiary shall be admitted ... for the validity period of the petition, plus a period of up to 10 days before ... and 10 days after .... (ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/…) – phoog May 11 '15 at 18:30
  • So yes, it's technically up to the whim of the admitting officer, on account of the "up to" language, but I find it extremely difficult to believe that anyone would, in practice, restrict the 10-day buffer to a shorter period. – phoog May 11 '15 at 22:37
  • The part of the law you have quoted applies to a petitioner. The OP is not, AFAIK, a petitioner. This is a simple end-of-visa question. Now I'll make the point again. When you gain entry to the US, the admitting officer may grant you an extra 10 days on your I-94, and might not. It can help to ask for it. If that was not granted, you don't have any buffer. In my case, I have a whole year. But as I leave the country often, it doesn't matter. The next admitting officer might have a different view. – Craig Welch May 12 '15 at 2:39

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