I am British, currently staying in the USA for 6 weeks on an ESTA Visa Waiver. I am living with a local family and whilst here my child (9 years old) has been attending a private (non-state) school with the children of the local family.

Today somebody told me that by having my child attend a private school I may be in violation of the terms of the ESTA Visa Waiver.

I have found nothing about this at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/

Where can I find official documentation / online advice about this?

  • and what is your child's immigration status?
    – user102008
    Feb 1, 2017 at 23:11
  • We are British.
    – Stewart
    Feb 2, 2017 at 3:00
  • Yes but what is your child's status? On VWP like you? B2? F1? US citizen?
    – user102008
    Feb 2, 2017 at 3:05
  • We are British, visiting the USA for 6 weeks, on an ESTA Visa Waiver.
    – Stewart
    Feb 2, 2017 at 11:13

1 Answer 1

  1. Individuals entering under the Visa Waiver Program are generally subject to B-1/B-2 rules

  2. AFAIK the parent can't be breaching their visa rules in this case but their child might. Or they might not.

Look at the Nonimmigrants: Who Can Study? table which says in a footnote for "K-12 allowed for minor children"

In some cases, a B-2 child is allowed to study if accompanying a parent and the study is incidental to the reason for the parent traveling to the United States. For example, missionaries may enter as a B-2 and the children may attend K-12 school while the parent is pursuing the primary purpose of the visit. The length of stay will not be extended to allow a minor child to complete a school year.

There's also under Visitor Visa allowed:

enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree

Your case is probably extremely difficult to decide and if you or your child gets in trouble probably needs a (very good) lawyer. In my very humble opinion, and understand I am not an immigration official and do not even pretend to be one, the shortness of your stay excludes getting any credit for said study and as such, it is perhaps allowed under the Visitor Visa rules as a "recreational course". Especially so if the purpose of the trip is demonstrably not attending this school.

Since it is 2017 in the USA, I must add that the color of your skin and your religion probably plays a huge role: if you are brown and Muslim and someone reports you to ICE you might get in trouble. If you are a White Christian the chances of trouble is extremely low.

  • 1
    @pnuts K-12 says nothing about the funding of the school. It only denotes the level: kindergarten through twelfth grade. That is, secondary school and earlier.
    – phoog
    Jan 31, 2017 at 15:27
  • 1
    @pnuts that definition is just wrong in tying the term to public schools. The likely reason for this is that in huge areas of the country the public schools are the only option available, so many people equate grade schools with public schools. For the purpose of immigration status (to get back on topic) I can't imagine it matters whether a primary or secondary school is public, private, or parochial. Jurisdictions may have different rules about non-taxpayers attending public school, however; I don't know, and OP seems to have solved that problem if it arose.
    – phoog
    Jan 31, 2017 at 15:56
  • @pnuts those are the grades for which free education is available, but private and parochial schools also use the same grade system and, aside from the cost, are functionally equivalent. See for example The Dalton School dalton.org Manhattan Upper East Side coed private school for grades K -12.
    – phoog
    Jan 31, 2017 at 16:09
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – phoog
    Jan 31, 2017 at 16:39
  • I've posted some information to the chat. There is a difference between public and private schools. If attending a public school, you have to pay the full, unsubsidized cost, even if you're a relative of a US citizen in the school district.
    – mkennedy
    Jan 31, 2017 at 18:42

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