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My passport is swiss and I am living at Vancouver (with a student Visa valid until 2018) and I have a valid ESTA (until July 2016). Around July 15, I'll be crossing the border (between Vancouver and Seattle) to hitchhike in the USA along the west coast for about 2 weeks or 1 month.

At the moment I'll pass the border, I won't be able to indicate where I'll spend my first night. I won't be able to accurately say how much time I'll spend in the USA. Is it an issue?

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  • no, There is nothing, Because you got ESTA
    – aitazaz
    Jun 29 '15 at 21:14
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    You might find that hitchhiking in the US is difficult, if not illegal (per-state rules apply). For example, California law is unambiguous: "No person shall stand in a roadway for the purpose of soliciting a ride from the driver of any vehicle." codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/VEH/1/d11/5/s21957 Jun 29 '15 at 21:20
  • @GregHewgill Thanks for your advice. The law you cite doesn't seem ambiguous to me. Seems like it is just illegal to hitchhike. Based on this wiki article I first felt relatively confident. I might open a new post to discuss this issue.
    – Remi.b
    Jun 29 '15 at 21:35
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    @GregHewgill Yes, that's perfectly unambiguous...if you are accustomed to reading laws! That code defines "roadway" as the travel lanes only, excluding the shoulder, berm, etc., thus it's only illegal to hitchhike while blocking traffic... Jun 29 '15 at 21:52
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    Remi, simply make it easy, not hard for the officials at the border. Surely you can say to me now where you will probably spend the first night, it can't be that mysterious? Pick any well known hotel in a major city near the border. OK, so your plans may change later. So what? Any time in the universe there is a plan, you can state the true sentence "Plans may change later." What's the big deal? If you are super-paranoid, just make a booking (which you can cancel) at hotel XYZ. "How long staying" is same. Just say "3 weeks" and leave it at that.
    – Fattie
    Jun 2 '16 at 16:18
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Yes, both of these are potential issues.

(First, you are entering by land, so the ESTA is a non-issue. ESTA is for air/sea entry only.)

I will presume that you will be entering without a visa, under the visa waiver programme.

In this case, the I-94W form requires an address in the USA. I do not believe that "UNKNOWN" is accepted, but I may be wrong. If you can obtain a reservation somewhere for your first night and write that in, it's a good start.

Second, the suggestion that you won't know how much time you will spend within the USA is not helpful for a CBP agent. His job is to assume that you are going to break immigration law and overstay. Your job is to satisfy him that you will not.

If you can prove that you will definitely leave in one month (or less) then that is fine. Usually this could be accomplished by proof of residency and firm connections in Vancouver, or by onward travel out of Canada already booked within a month, or by some other tangible document.

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  • It would probably also create problems if you tell the immigration people that you're going to hitch-hike everywhere. Jul 21 at 16:13

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