Coming from the EU, I am in the process of getting a DV visa, and planning to go to the US for reconnaissance mid-June.

When entering the US, I understand, the border patrol has the right (even with a valid greencard-eligible visa) to turn it down, and cancel it for arbitrary reasons.

In contingencies like this, would applying for the Visa Waiver Program as a next-best-alternative let me enter the United States (for the VWP period)?

  • What's a DV visa? Are you refering to Diversity Lottery?
    – Karlson
    Mar 20, 2014 at 22:21
  • 1
    Diversity Immigrant Visa, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diversity_Immigrant_Visa Mar 20, 2014 at 22:22
  • "In the process of?" Do you have a visa in your passport or not? Mar 20, 2014 at 22:27
  • Been selected, passed medical, have paperwork, will interview next week. For the purpose of this question, let's assume it goes okay. Mar 20, 2014 at 22:27
  • 2
    If they turn you down when entering the country, they will likely not change their mind just because you have signed up with ESTA.
    – Pekka
    Mar 25, 2014 at 1:53

2 Answers 2


If you have any kind of valid U.S. Visa in your passport, you should not do ESTA. It wouldn't matter because whenever you have a valid visa, the VWP does not apply.

If you are still waiting on your visa to be issued you can enter on VWP and tell border security that you are on a personal exploratory visit before your green card is issued, which is perfectly acceptable. Don't ever lie about your true intentions. If they determine you haven't been telling the truth it could jeopardize your visa application.

Note that you can't apply for VWP. VWP means that you don't need a visa for simple tourist or business trips. You do apply for ESTA if you arrive by air or sea (so if you enter via Canada you don't need ESTA).

  • This isn't quite correct. Someone who has a valid visa other than a B visa who plans to visit the US for a B-visa purpose can use the VWP if eligible.
    – phoog
    Sep 9, 2020 at 23:35
  • @phoog I didn't say that. What I said is that there's no point in entering on VWP when you have a valid visa. The only time where it could make make sense is if your visa expires within 90 days and you want to stay longer (up to 90 days) for tourism or a business trip. Sep 30, 2020 at 23:35
  • "there's no point in entering on VWP when you have a valid visa": if your valid visa is not a B visa, and your trip is not allowable under your valid visa, but it is allowable under a B visa, and you're eligible for the VWP, then you should get ESTA and use the VWP. Such cases are probably uncommon, but they are possible. The visa expiration example is not such a case, however, as US admissions are made without regard to the expiration date of the visa; the visa is only required to be valid when the bearer arrives at the border and applies for admission.
    – phoog
    Feb 16, 2022 at 17:54

If I understand the question correctly, you seem to be thinking that if the immigration officer says 'entry denied' (which is unlikely if you have a green card), you would then say 'OK, I'd like to enter under the visa waiver program'?

This will not work. Apart from, as stated above, the inapplicability of the VWP if you have a valid visa, you don't get two chances. The officer would have a reason for not letting you enter, and you would be bundled off to a waiting area for the next plane back home.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.