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I was wondering the following: My girlfriend will be going to the USA with a J-1 visa for about 10 weeks to work there as part of an exchange program. I am planning to join her on this trip, but won’t be working, so obviously I’d enter visa-free. We would be renting an apartment for that time period through Airbnb or similar.

So I would mainly stay in the city where my girlfriend works, but would explore the neighbouring area / states during the week. I’d also attend some conferences and events related to my profession.

So I would tell border immigration officers truthfully that I wouldn’t be working, and will be taking some time off while my girlfriend is doing her internship, but I wonder how much I should provide proof for this time off.

Someone warned me to be careful, because they knew a person that was sent back in a somewhat similar situation (although I don’t have the full details on the story). I know that’s a pretty vague precedent, but it got my worrying none the less.

Should I be worried about this? Should I bring proof that I don’t intend to stay in the USA after the 10 weeks are over (e.g. proof of home ownership, proof of having a self-employed business back home, bank statements that I have money to live there & return)? Or will this only raise more (unwarranted) suspicion that I might be expecting trouble? Does anyone have any other tips of what I should mention or (not) bring along, to avoid trouble?

Thanks a lot!

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    Have a look around similar questions on here. As a matter of principle don't lie to the immigration officer but don't talk to him more than necessary, answer short and precisely. I rather see a point about your business, if you were to do any remote work for that from the U.S. that might be in breach of your ESTA. Again, there should be questions about that on here and impossible to say not knowing more details about that. – mts Jun 29 '16 at 10:14
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    Note: ESTA isn't exactly a visa. Familiarise yourself with the rules of the Visa Waiver Program and you should be fine. See also travel.stackexchange.com/questions/66243/… – CMaster Jun 29 '16 at 11:37
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Border officials are looking for evidence that you're planning to work illegally and/or move to the US permanently. Usually boyfriends coming to visit girlfriends (or vice versa) is a huge red flag for both, and this is likely the source of the horror stories you're hearing.

However, your case is different, because your girlfriend is not a US citizen and is there for a fixed-duration internship. By all means bring documentation, at a minimum your return flight, her visa and her return flight, and the other documents you list be helpful as well.

And as @mts already advised you, answer when asked but don't volunteer extra information. You're taking some time off to visit the US and attend some conferences, you're staying in an Airbnb, you have a return ticket and means to support yourself - odds are pretty high this is all you need and you'll never even need to mention your girlfriend.

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    Going for 10 weeks, rather then just visiting for 2 weeks may give more problems. – Ian Ringrose Oct 29 '16 at 16:44

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