I am a Finnish citizen very soon travelling from Helsinki to Montreal, Canada (No transit through USA) on a tourist visa and staying inside Canada for four months. From Canada I travel to Hawaii and Seattle for one month. After 4 months in Canada and 1 month in USA I will leave the North America and USA for Finland.

Can there be any risk that I overstay my time in the USA (90 days)- when I am first four months in a neighbouring USA country part of North America? Do the ESTA, VWP start counting the 90 days when I first enter Canada and North America, Do I have to return to Finland between my Canada and USA trip?


1 Answer 1


No. Canada is not part of the USA, so the fact that you went there first is irrelevant to your length of stay in the USA.

Short stays in Canada or Mexico after entering the U.S. apparently do count as part of the 90 days according to this question, though I can't find official sources to back this up. But I don't think this would apply even if you happened to transit through the U.S.

While an ESTA is needed for transit through the U.S., it allows multiple stays of 90 days, as long as they are not too close together (there is no specific limit). The rule about stays in Canada and Mexico is apparently to avoid "resetting" the 90 day period with a quick trip. One day transiting through the U.S., and then a month stay in the U.S. four months later, seems very unlikely to be interpreted as exceeding the 90 day limit--especially given that you will have a Canadian visa.

Some information is found on the ESTA site under the link "What is the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)?" (unfortunately it can't be linked directly, due to some dumb use of Javascript). It doesn't discuss the Canada/Mexico entry issue, though.

  • 5
    It's not entirely irrelevant, as time spent in Canada, Mexico and nearby islands after entering the US does count against the VWP 90 day clock. However, since the OP is going to Canada first and returning from the US straight to Finland, this is not a problem here. Aug 11, 2016 at 7:30
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    Canada is not part of the USA is worth repeating. And the intention of the US "90 day rule" is to frustrate visa runs, not to prevent legitimate transits or visits. Aug 11, 2016 at 7:32
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    @jpatokal, that's an important point, can you point to official information on this? I found this question but it doesn't have any links to the official information: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/5922/…
    – user35890
    Aug 11, 2016 at 7:38
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    @dan1111 Good luck. CBP did something to their web site a few months ago and broke a lot of links. The info given in that Q&A is nevertheless correct. Aug 11, 2016 at 8:10
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    @MichaelHampton I posted a couple of answers a couple of months ago with links to the information on the State department website. It's also available in US Code or the Code of Federal Regulations. I'll have a look later to see if I can find it. The statute says that the officer "may" admit a returning traveler for the remainder of the original period of admission, so as with much of US immigration, there's a lot of discretion and little in the way of hard and fast rules. This contrasts with the Schengen approach, obviously.
    – phoog
    Aug 11, 2016 at 10:30

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