I will be studying in the US using a J1 exchange visa in January, but the visa expires (as well as the grace period) before my intended departure date at the end of July. The grace period expires 3 weeks before my departure date. My student accommodation is paid for up until end of July, hence why I booked the flights for this time to make the most out my paid rent. I already have an approved ESTA due to travelling to the US earlier this year, so if I change the address on my ESTA to my student accommodation, will this be sufficient while I stay the last 3 weeks in the US? I don't intend to work. I am a UK citizen.

  • 2
    You may be able to apply to change your nonimmigrant status to B-2, though there are some restrictions for J-1 visitors. This costs $290 (plus $85 in some cases, but, I think, not yours). The only other option is to leave and then apply for entry under the VWP. But when does your program of study actually end? You do realize, don't you, that the grace period starts then, and has nothing to do with the expiration of your visa? – phoog Dec 30 '15 at 19:14
  • 1
    What are you going to be doing in the period between the expiry of your visa and your intended departure date? – DJClayworth Dec 30 '15 at 19:24
  • 1
    Note that a US visa is only for entry to the US. The expiration of the visa has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to stay in the US. Do you mean the DS-2019 for your J-1 program expires? – user102008 Dec 30 '15 at 19:45

No, I don't think so.

People often misunderstand what ESTA is. It doesn't grant you permission to be in the US. It grants you permission to travel to the US (i.e. to the border) and ask for admission at the port of entry, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP).

So in order to use this, you would have to leave the US before the expiration of your J1 status (plus grace period), then come back and ask to be admitted under the VWP. But since the VWP is intended for short-term visitors, if they ask you where you're planning to stay, and you say "in the apartment I've been renting for a year", they may not believe that you are really a visitor, and think that you are trying to immigrate. So you might be denied entry, which would undoubtedly be very awkward.

| improve this answer | |
  • @DJClayworth J-1 students seem to be admitted for "duration of status," in which case not having finished his studies would mean that he was still eligible for J-1 status. – phoog Dec 30 '15 at 19:35

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.