As a French citizen, living in Canada with a permanent residency, what kind of visa do I need if I want to go in the US for a day (or may be a few days)?

I also have a Canadian driving license, it that makes any difference

I would be going by bus or car from Canada, not by plane or boat (apparently the mode of transportation can be of significance).


2 Answers 2


As a French citizen, you're part of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). If you're traveling by land, you do not need to get an ESTA. Having Canadian permanent residence doesn't change the situation.

You will have to fill out an I94W for upon arrival at the border. According to this FAQ, you should turn in the I94W form when you leave the U.S. (question 4)

I found this information on the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website in one of the FAQs. Also see question 2 of the previous link.

  • thank you for your answer! I was indeed wondering about the ETSA. I am going there this week end, so I will confirm your answer upon return.
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 23:19
  • 1
    Actually having Canadian residence does change the situation in one relevant way, namely that for a Canadian resident going back to Canada will reset the VWP 90-day clock, which it doesn't for non-residents of Canada. Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 23:30
  • Interesting! Can you find an official cite? I've looked but can't find anything. Closest thing was an earlier question here, answered by Doc.
    – mkennedy
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 23:45
  • @mkennedy: Unfortunately I can't find an official source either. The closest I get are earlier (but uncontested) answers here. Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 23:49
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    And it will cost you a couple dollars (6 a couple years ago), which you can pay cash or with a credit card.
    – Vince
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 0:45

I am now a Canadian citizen but before that, I was only a national of a Visa Waiver country, with Canadian PR status.

You just bring your passport (and PR card) and make sure to buffer at least an hour if it's a busy crossing for parking your vehicle and filling out the I-94. The PR card isn't actually needed to enter the US, but it's a must to re-enter Canada.

In fact, if the dollar is at parity, I suggest avoiding land crossings during daylight hours until you get your citizenship, because the border line up takes forever and then the I-94 wait on top of that can really ruin your day. I obtained my citizenship while the dollar was worth more than 95 cents US, and I estimate I immediately saved at least 90 minutes per border crossing thanks to my Canadian passport. When I got my Nexus card a year later, I saved at least an extra half hour.

It really sucks that Canadian PRs are treated differently from citizens at the land crossings, even if they are VWP nationals. Canada treats green card holders the same way they treat US passport holders, i.e. you just flash your documentation at the booth and be on your merry way, no need to get out of the car.

With the exchange rate at 81 cents now (as of Jan 2015), I don't think wait times will be what they used to be, so you may not really need 1 hour. But better safe than sorry :)

  • Thank you for you answer (and apparently for signing up just for that!)
    – njzk2
    Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 0:46
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    "If the dollar is at parity". So not a problem now, then. Commented Jan 23, 2015 at 4:10

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