The jist of the matter is that I have potential work in Los Angeles. I am an Australian citizen living in Australia. I had the idea of moving to Tijuana and basing myself there, entering the US (California) maybe once a month to confer with the people I work for, for 1-3 days.

The way I look at it, I will be an Australian citizen, freelancing while holidaying in Mexico. On top of that I would be entering the US for short periods to consult with business associates (listed as an approved action under the visa waiver's business section)

The thing I am worried about is that this stack exchange thread mentions that time spent in Mexico or Canada counts towards the 90 days total allowed in the US under all these rules. Would this be the case for me even if I am only spending maybe 5-10 days in the US during this 90 day period? It hardly seems like I am 'trying to live in the US and circumvent the 90 day limit' if I am barely even in the US.

Any advice appreciated.

  • I should clarify that I would like to do this consistently for a period of time that might be anywhere from 6 months to a few years.
    – D.Wells
    Sep 6, 2016 at 0:54
  • 2
    Have you investigated what you would need to live and work in Mexico? Sep 6, 2016 at 1:10
  • 1
    I think the situation you are asking about will be one of those "at the CBP officer's discretion" items. But keep in mind that regular visits from Mexico to the USA could also be viewed as suspicious for other reasons.
    – user13044
    Sep 6, 2016 at 1:17
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    Are you proposing to live illegally in Mexico?! Then you could run into a problem. Sep 6, 2016 at 1:20
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    @D.Wells: There is an unwritten rule on how long you need to be outside Mexico to get a new visa-on-arrival/passport stamp. Some people might get it without having to cross sometimes at some crossings. The only time I tried this I was denied and the officer was not impressed. Also you don't necessarily get 6 months. There are some rules at each border or crossing and part is up to the officer. But yeah there's more and more details which are further and further off topic for our site so the expat site would be much better for getting all the info sorted. Sep 6, 2016 at 5:06

1 Answer 1


Residents of Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean are treated differently with respect to the rules designed to circumvent visa runs to Canada, Mexico, or the Caribbean.

If you are admitted to the United States under the VWP, you may take a short trip to Canada, Mexico, or a nearby island and generally be readmitted to the United States under the VWP for the remainder of the original 90 days granted upon your initial arrival in the United States. Therefore, the length of time of your total stay, including the short trip, must be 90 days or less. See the CBP website. Citizens of VWP countries who reside in Mexico, Canada, or a nearby island are generally exempted from the requirement to show onward travel to another country when entering the United States. Learn more on the CBP website.

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html

Most importantly, the rules concern travelers who take "short trips" to Canada, Mexico, or adjacent islands; you will not be such a traveler.

  • 1
    @pnuts exactly.
    – phoog
    Sep 6, 2016 at 3:08
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    But would the OP be a "resident" of Mexico, since they are only "holidaying" there?
    – user13044
    Sep 6, 2016 at 3:23
  • @Tom the traveler is staying legally in Mexico for 6 months or more. I believe that counts as residence.
    – phoog
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:16
  • @pnuts no, I think I misread your question. The rule that doesn't apply is the "time in Mexico counts the same as time in the US" rule.
    – phoog
    Sep 6, 2016 at 14:17
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    @pnuts yes, an Australian can enter once a month from Mexico. This assumes that each entry is for a few days, as proposed in the question. Obviously if the border officer thinks the traveler is living in the US (which violates the terms of the VWP), the traveler will be denied entry.
    – phoog
    Sep 6, 2016 at 21:22

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