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Similar questions were asked, but they were still different from my situation. I wanted to enter USA under VWP stay there for about 3 weeks, cross over to CAN where I would stay for 3-3.5 more months and then return back to country of residence from CAN. Is it necessary to apply for tourist visa for US? If the time altogether was less than 90 days, would it be OK? Alternatively, what if I flew to Costa Rica after staying in USA and then from CR straight to CAN? I don´t feel like going thru visa application procedure as it would cost money and would be tight with time. Many thanks

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    What is your nationality? If it qualifies for the VWP, then why do you think this plan might require you to get a visa anyway? – Henning Makholm Dec 18 '14 at 0:15
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I wanted to enter USA under VWP stay there for about 3 weeks, cross over to CAN where I would stay for 3-3.5 more months and then return back to country of residence from CAN.

If you follow the above plan, then you will not overstay your stay in the USA under the VWP. The USA would consider you "in" the country for only your initial 3 weeks. As long as you are eligible for the VWP, you do not need a tourist visa.

You would only encounter a problem if you tried to re-enter the USA after your 3+ month stay in Canada. In this case, your entry to Canada would not reset the VWP 90-day clock.

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You appear to be confusing two separate things.

  1. The VWP allows you to make a visit of up to 90 days to the USA.
  2. If you go to another country in North America and then go straight back to the USA, it counts as a continuation of the original visit, not a new visit. To start a new visit, you must leave North America before returning to the USA. In this context, "North America" means the USA, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

You are covered entirely by point 1: you will be in the USA for less than 90 days, then you will leave and not come back. You can stay in Canada for as long as Canada will allow you to and the USA doesn't care, as long as you don't go back to the USA without leaving North America first. (And you don't plan to do that: you plan to return home after visiting Canada.)

Point 2 says that you cannot spend three weeks in the USA, then spend three months in Canada, and then go back to the USA. The USA treats that as a continuation of your first visit, which would make it longer than 120+ days. Since you're not planning to do this, it doesn't affect you.

Coincidentally, the US Customs and Border Patrol website (the same page I linked above) specifically uses Costa Rica as an example. If you did fly to Costa Rica, that would reset the clock and your return to the USA would count as a separate visit. However, US immigration is very sensitive about people trying to game the system by spending 90 days in the USA, leaving briefly and then trying to return.

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