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I am planning on transiting to Los Angeles on an ESTA (I will be in the USA for maybe 2-3 weeks) from there I want to cycle into Mexico and the rest of Central America. 5-6 months later I would like to cross back into USA from Mexico at a land crossing and cycle north to Canada. Will I be able to get 90 days at the border going into USA or will my time in Mexico reduce the days?

I have an Australian passport.

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The VWP component (90 day period) doesn't reset if you go to Mexico or Canada, you have to leave farther afield for it to reset again.

So 90 days from your first entrance into the US, you cannot be in the US any more, unless you went, say, to Guatemala.

If you do that, the counter resets again. Entering Mexico does not start it again, as you've not arrived in the US. It'd restart once more when you cross the border into the US.

Note that on this second trip, entering Canada, your 90 days continues. This is fine, but if you want to fly out to somewhere else - transiting in the US could potentially be an issue.

  • Thank you that sounds as if I will be able to stick to my plan – user26180 Jan 19 '15 at 23:16
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    You and the asker are confusing ESTA and VWP. ESTA doesn't "reset", ever: it's valid for two years (or until your passport expires, if that's sooner). VWP allows you to be in the USA for up to 90 days without requiring a visa, and that requires leaving North America to start a new 90-day period. – David Richerby Oct 25 '15 at 18:39
  • @DavidRicherby was attempting to use the OP's language. I may edit and rephrase for clarity shortly. – Mark Mayo Oct 26 '15 at 0:23
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    In general if you are out of the US for 5-6 months you will be OK to start a new VWP, even if you only went to Mexico or Canada. – DJClayworth Oct 26 '15 at 1:06

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