I entered the US in 2018 with a valid I-20 and valid F-1 (exp 2023) but gave up my program and left during Covid in the middle of 2020.
I came back to the US in the middle of 2021 this year on an ESTA visa waiver from Australia to visit some friends, and now decided to want to resume studying in the US on my old F-1. I applied and have been granted a new I-20 from my US school.
I plan to leave the US before my ESTA expires (after ~85 days of staying) and re-entering the US essentially immediately on my F-1 with valid I-20.
My question is will I be able to do this, or will the long stay of my ESTA raise concerns with immigration in conjunction with my immediate planned re-entry on a new visa?
And do I have to travel all the way back to my home country (Australia) in order to come back in on a different visa, or could I travel to a closer country like Canada and reset that way?