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I am a UK citizen who is in the grace period of my J1 visa. I want to get an ESTA via the VWP for tourism.

From what I understand I can go to Mexico/Canada through the land border and return on an ESTA. However, I'm worried that I might have my request refused, or that I have to wait until the end of my grace period to return.

Also, would I be able to drive my US-registered car back in?

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There is no specific legal problem with doing this. Your grace period ends as soon as you leave the US - there is no need to wait out the 30 days. Note that ESTA doesn't apply when driving---you'll simply complete I-94W instead.

Whether the officers will admit you as a tourist, particularly with your US-registered car, is a question nobody can answer with certainty. It's always safest to have a back-up plan just in case you're unable to enter the US due to a surprise denial, new pandemic rules, etc.

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  • Thanks, I appreciate your advice. I'm trying to maximise my chances of getting back in. I've got proof of travel insurance, an outbound flight home, job applications out of the country.
    – prayner
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 4:09
  • @prayner Do you have a simple answer to "What are you going to do with your car?"
    – krubo
    Commented Dec 5, 2021 at 11:07

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