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I currently live in Queensland, Australia however i used to live in California. I am planning to stay the whole summer (around 90 days) under the Visa waiver program from around May 17, 2017 until August 10, 2017. I have perviously lived in California for seven years (2005-2012) and plan to go back and live just how i used to, seeing all my old friends and just generally living like a local again. I plan to stay with friends for the first month then rent out a room by myself for the other two months.

My main concern is whether or not the CBP officer at port of entry will grant me the full three months. I will not be doing any tourist activities and a vast network of friends and activities will keep me busy the whole time. Is there anything i can do to show the CBP officer that i will be returning home on time and ensure that he or she will grant me the whole three months.

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    Someone trying to immigrate illegally would be likely to be willing to pay the cost of a return ticket and throw it away. Job/home/family in Australia that the OP plans to return to would be more impressive, if there are any questions. – Patricia Shanahan Jan 17 '17 at 4:09
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    You would only be granted a shortened period of admission if your circumstances were very unusual or if you'd recently been in the country for a significant period of time under the VWP. Neither is the case. You don't have anything to worry about. – phoog Jan 17 '17 at 7:48
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    If "live just like you used to" includes going to work just like you used to, then that visit does not qualify for entering under the VWP. – Henning Makholm Jan 17 '17 at 12:00
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    What is your citizenship? I'm guessing that you are an Australian citizen but it isn't clear from your question. Under what visa did you live in the USA for 7 years (guest worker? student? permanent resident?)? Did you overstay? – Columbia says Reinstate Monica Jan 17 '17 at 12:29
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    Just purely FWIW, one man's guess, you'd have no problems, it's totally normal. But as others have mentioned, it's totally unclear what is your passport, etc. – Fattie Jan 17 '17 at 15:43
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I used to be a US permanent resident, but surrendered my green card after moving back to my native country (UK). The advice at the time from CBP was to apply for a tourist visa before my next visit, rather than coming on visa waiver. The rationale being - as with most visa applications - that this allows the decision about whether you're a migration risk to be safely and thoughtfully taken at an embassy, instead of all spur-of-the-moment when you present yourself at a border.

Although one hears horror stories about visa-waiver nationals who apply for B visas, I had no problem once I explained that I had been advised to do this, and why. In the event my visa interview (in London) was fairly painless, and my visa issued shortly after. I have since entered and left the US many times, and had no issues.

I can't, of course, know whether I'd've faced problems trying to enter on visa waiver (and, later, ESTA). But CBP did suggest to me when I surrendered my green card that the exact question you've asked above would be asked of me, quite pointedly, if I showed up at a border and asked to come in on visa waiver, and that the tourist visa was the right way to forestall this. And as a fringe benefit, you can stay up to six months on a B visa (though I'm not sure I'd try this on my first post-resident visit).

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If you have ever had US citizenship and have not formally renounced it, you technical still have US citizenship and therefore if you also have citizenship in Australia (as taken from the US Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs):

"Most U.S. nationals, including dual nationals, must use a U.S. passport to enter and leave the United States. Dual nationals may also be required by the foreign country to use its passport to enter and leave that country."

So in this case, whether or not you have your Australian passport, coming to the US on your "foreign" passport will also add the burden on you to prove you're a US citizen (if you are)

If you are not a dual-national (if you already renounced US citizenship and only have Australian citizenship or never were a US citizen) then you CAN enter the US through the VWP IF YOU CAN PROVE you fit the following:

Travel Purpose Must be Permitted on a Visitor (B) Visa

Tourism:

  • tourism vacation (holiday)
  • visit with friends or relatives medical
  • treatment participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations
  • participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for
  • participating enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Travel Purposes Not Permitted on Visa Waiver Program

The following are examples of activities not permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:

  • study, for credit
  • employment
  • work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media
  • permanent residence in the United States

For more information on your situation, it is a good idea to visit the nearest consulate near you or contact them. Here is a link to a list of Australian consulates/embassy: (https://www.usembassy.gov/australia/)

Visa-Waiver Program guidelines: (https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html)

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    There is little basis for suspecting the traveler is a US citizen (or that he ever was one), but even if he is, the consequences for entering without a valid US passport are anything but "severe." In fact, the law that imposes this requirement imposes no penalty on those who violate it. – phoog Jan 18 '17 at 4:55
  • Severe? Please stop spreading misinformation: travel.stackexchange.com/questions/85389/… – JonathanReez Supports Monica Jan 18 '17 at 8:15

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