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This is about entering the USA. I have

  1. Hungarian citizenship with a 10 year B1/B2 visa in my passport I got before Hungary became part of the VWP.

  2. Real soon now, I will become a Canadian citizen (my oath is on April 5th) and will get a passport.

Since I, as a person, have a visa, am I obliged to enter into the USA with that? Or can I just forget it and use my Canadian passport? I know I could do whatever I want if I didn't have a visa but with that in the picture I am unsure. U.S. CBP website describes a number of situations but not mine.

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  • Canada is not an ESTA country and my answer is from the CBP itself. The question is not a duplicate and the answer is as good as it gets. – chx May 19 '16 at 5:48
  • Sure, Canada is not a VWP country, but both questions look to me like "must I enter using my B visa if I have another nationality that allows me to enter without a visa." – phoog May 19 '16 at 6:43
  • You presume the outcome of both (ESTA / Canadian) questions are the same. That'd be logical. This is immigration, however. Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. – chx May 19 '16 at 7:10
  • Point taken. The answer does in fact seem to be the same, however. It might also be worth noting here that, as we've noted in chat just now, you get more favorable treatment if you enter as a Canadian than you do as a citizen of nearly all other countries, with respect to overstays and the like. That's quite the opposite of the VWP, since VWP travelers waive the right to contest removal decisions and so on. – phoog Aug 3 '16 at 10:16
5

I sent the question as posted here to the CBP (because noone sources their answers and it reads to me as beliefs held about passports not facts) and received the information below. Based on this, despite it is not a straight yes or no (they never do that) I believe I am allowed to present a Canadian passport because otherwise why would they point out what happens if I present one. I will seek further clarification in April once I get my passport and add it to my NEXUS at the NEXUS centre but for now I think I am good.

So, without further ado, their reply:


Thank you for contacting the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) INFO Center.

A Canadian citizen does not need a visa to visit the United States.

If you present a Hungarian passport: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/572

If you present a Canadian passport: https://help.cbp.gov/app/answers/detail/a_id/619

If you have any other questions or concerns, please feel free to call our toll-free number 877-CBP-5511 (877-227-5511). From outside the United States, please call 202-325-8000 - you may incur charges from your telephone service provider for this call. Our service hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Eastern Time. We are closed on all U.S. federal holidays.

We hope our answers ease your entry into the United States. Please understand these answers are informational only, The CBP officer who speaks with you upon arrival determines the admissibility of goods and visitors.

Thank you again for contacting the CBP INFO Center.

Sincerely,

CBP INFO Center

  • Citizens of VWP countries who have B visas don't use the VWP because they're not entering with a waiver of a visa; they're entering with a visa. But if you've got, for example, a G visa, and you want to enter the US in B status, you can enter on the VWP program. Similarly, if you hold another nationality, you can enter on terms appropriate to that nationality. Regardless, your case is not one of holding a B visa and wanting to enter under the VWP. Canadians do not participate in the VWP; their terms of visa-free entry are controlled by different provisions of law. – phoog Mar 7 '16 at 21:33
  • It is much easier to enter on a Canadian passport than with a visa or VWP. Canadian citizens do not need a visa (or waiver!) to visit. It's also a lot easier to work in the US, but that's another site... – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '16 at 4:56
  • ... which was not the question. Obviously it is easier, the question whether it's doable but the answer is yes: I asked the CBP officer at the Pacific Highway crossing when I took the bus to Seattle a few days ago. – chx Apr 3 '16 at 5:05
  • Yes, it's doable. You can enter on whichever passport you wish. Your name, birthdate, place of birth and gender is sufficient for CBP to determine you gained a new citizenship, but unless you have some negative immigration history, they won't care. Unfortunately CBP seems to have deleted half or more of their help documents, and I can no longer find documents I am certain existed a few weeks ago... – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '16 at 5:06
  • P.S. After you get your shiny new Canadian passport, you may find this app helpful. – Michael Hampton Apr 3 '16 at 5:37
3

There is no harm in entering the US with your visa; keeping in mind that it is attached to your Hungarian nationality/passport.

Similarly - once you have your Canadian passport, you can also travel freely on that to the US.

Canadian citizens are exempt from ESTA and do not need a visa for most tourist/leisure visits; however they are not exempt from visas if the purpose of the visit is anything other than tourism:

If you intend to visit the United States for any other reason than tourism and non-paid business events, you may need to apply for a visa in advance. There are numerous U.S. visa categories depending on the purpose of your visit, and a visa can only be applied for at a U.S. consulate or embassy.

For practical purposes, if you are under a VWP or otherwise do not need a visa to visit the US (such as a Canadian citizen), you have rights similar to someone holding a B1/B2 - in that you both can do most tourist activities, but cannot engage in paid work, study or immigrate to the US.

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    > There is no harm in entering the US with your visa -- except most airlines online check in systems tell you to show up at the desk for a documentation check and then the agent goes bonkers trying to enter a visa for a VWP country. > once you have your Canadian passport, you can also travel freely on that to the US. -- how do you know this? I do not see this sourced. – chx Mar 6 '16 at 13:53
  • @chx Why would an agent go "bonkers"? The Visa Waiver Program only extends to a fraction of travellers from each VWP country. Many Hungarians in the future will still require B1/B2 visas if they are ineligible to join the Visa Waiver Program. For instance if your stay in the USA is going to be longer than 90 days, if you have ever been to Iran or if you have ever been arrested, you have to get a visa, you cannot enter under the VWP. As for Canadians, a simple Google search will find travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/canada-bermuda.html – Calchas Mar 6 '16 at 18:24
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    @chx If you are travelling on a valid (ordinary) Canadian passport, you are a Canadian for all purposes. You are certainly entitled to use it just like any other Canadian is. If you weren't entitled to use it, you wouldn't have it. There's no difference between you and any other Canadian citizen. – Calchas Mar 6 '16 at 21:30
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    @chx Entering a visa for somebody from a VWP country is very common and no reason whatsoever for a check-in agent to "go bonkers." Anybody from a VWP country who wishes to stay in the USA for more than 90 days, or be in paid employment or all kinds of other reasons needs a visa. This is a completely normal situation that doesn't cause check-in agents to bat an eyelid. – David Richerby Mar 7 '16 at 22:33
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    spreads arms What do I know? It's been always a problem. Alaska, United, Air Canada, Delta, all of them. – chx Mar 8 '16 at 0:02

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