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Visa Waiver

Citizens of certain countries (e.g. United Kingdom, etc.) may enter the USA at will for the purpose of visit. That is to say, there is no need to apply for a B1 visa from their home country for the purpose of sitting for Step 2 CS and Step 3, or for interviewing. The visa is issued right at the airport. This exception is known as the ‘visa waiver.’ For all practical purposes, a visa waiver is RARELY rejected. However, cases have occurred with disastrous consequences. This is because if a visa waiver is ever rejected, one can never enter the USA on this waiver again. This waiver being a major boon, one would not like to lose this liberty. So, know its conditions:

1)    One must be a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country.
2)    One must possess a machine readable passport. If you have not had your passport renewed in the last few years, you may not have one. Starting this year, you will actually have to get a biometric passport made. I don’t think this facility is available in Pakistan yet.
3)    One must have a valid passport that is valid for six months beyond one’s intended visit.
4)    One must be seeking entry for 90 days or less, as a temporary visitor for business or pleasure.
5)    One must have a round trip transportation ticket to any foreign destination other than a territory bordering the USA or an adjacent island.
6)    One must arrive via a carrier which has signed an agreement with the USA to deport you if you are found to be inadmissible. This applies if you are entering by land or by sea. Note that one can also enter at a land-border crossing point from Canada or Mexico.
7)    One must have filled the Form I-94W (you will either get this on the aeroplane or at the airport). It is green in color, as opposed to the regular white one.
8)    Absence of visa ineligibilities (previous rejection, criminal record, etc.)

Note that Canada is not part of the visa waiver program. They travel visa-free due to other immigration laws. If you’re Canadian, you’ll have to look these up yourself.

Now, in the event of the following, you will not be able to use the visa waiver (that is, you will have to get a B1 visa):

1)    You intend to stay for more than 90 days.
2)    You have previously been rejected.

This is where the problem usually arises. A period of 90 days is usually insufficient to sit for one’s Step 2 CS, interview, get ECFMG certified and sit for one’s Step 3. So, your options are as follows:

1)    Get a B1 visa. You can tell the official that you need it because you intend on staying for more than 90 days. How advisable this is, I don’t know. Although this is the ‘most’ proper thing for one to do, I don’t know anyone who has done this. Everyone fears visa rejection and FBI clearance stalling. On the other hand, it may accelerate your visa processing when you eventually apply for the J1 / H1. Remember, if you have been traveling on a visa waiver, you have never underwent FBI clearance. Hence, FBI clearance takes a longer period of time. When you will be applying for the J1 / H1 you will be in a time crunch. Perhaps it would be better to take the plunge earlier when you have more time on hand. However, again, if your visa gets rejected, the visa waiver no longer applies. So, I would not advise this.
2)    Leave the USA within 90 days and reenter at a later date. This is what everyone does. There is no specific time period which you have to wait before coming back to the USA. You should just have a good reason. (Even this does not always apply as the immigration officials sometimes become quite casual when you they see the visa waiver.) If you are coming for the purpose of the Step 3, make sure that you have evidence (i.e. the permit along with details of the date and venue of the examination). Another question which arises is ‘which country should one hop to’? The ideal cheap alternative would be Canada, however, this is not advisable due to condition (5) mentioned above. People have done it, but they received major problems at the airport. The second thing which people think about is the United Kingdom (if they are British). However, people have problems here too. I suppose the reason for this is it indicates that one intended to visit the USA for more than 90 days. After all, you did not return to your home country. The ideal situation is to return to your home country. Although this is more expensive, I don’t know anyone who has had problems when they did this. I did this myself, and I think that the extra funding is well worth it.

Note that if one is on a visa waiver, one can legally leave the USA to enter Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island and reenter the USA. However, the trip must take place during the original authorized period of admission.

The most important point, however, is… Whatever you do, make sure you leave the USA within 90 days. Under NO circumstances should you overstay. None whatsoever. People have been refused entry to USA simply because of overstay, even by a single day, or even if bad weather conditions prevented you from leaving last time. You do not want to permanently damage your immigration record. So, make sure you leave the USA with plenty of breathing room.

Note: This article has been derived from "Roadmap to Residency" authored by AKU graduates, with permission from few of the authors. Name of the original author, has purposely not been mentioned on request of one of the authors, for privacy reasons. If you are the original author of this article and want your name to be mentioned or wish this article to be modified/ removed from this website, please contact us and we would be more than happy to entertain your request. We fully respect your privacy, acknowledge your efforts put in authoring this article and appreciate your hard work involved in it.

observership on waiver visa

 hi. a friend of mine wil b travelling to usa on waiver to give his CS and wanted to know if you could apply for observership on waiver visa only? 

" Overstay in US on B1 visa for 3 days due to bad weather "


I came to US on 19th october 2009 and on my I-94 form the admited period of stay was till 21st december 2009. I was about to fly on 19th December 2009 but my flight got cancelled due to bad weather and now the date of travel is 24th december 2009. Can I travel to back to India on 24th ?

If I do so , will it affect in future to come to US again on same B1 Visa ?

Please reply ASAP.



Hi Nitin Sorry to hear the

umar's picture

Hi Nitin

Sorry to hear the problems you faced... I am sure you can travel back... but I am not sure if it would affect your future US visa... I hope it does not... please consult any embassy person for accurate advice...

I am very busy these days and won't be replying to anymore queries. Apologies for any inconvenience and thank you for your understanding. All the best.

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