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I have a particular situation. I entered the US with a 3 month-stay visa in 2004 and stayed there until 2013. I don't remember the exact date I entered the US; I was probably 14 years old, since I started high school there. I renewed my French passport in the US in 2013 in order to return to France, because I was tired of being an immigrant with no papers/visa. I also wanted to see my close relatives after being apart 9 years away. Now that I am back in France, all I think about is returning to the US because life in France isn't what I expected. I got used to the American way of life and I miss it a lot. I didn't graduate from high school; I left and went off to work in a fast food restaurant.

They didn't even stamp my passport when I came back to France, so my passport is as clean as water, nothing on it. Don't know if that helps or not so just wanted to point that out.

What can I do to go back to the US? A friend of mine told me to buy a ticket to the US to see if I can enter the US again? What are some steps for me to check if I can enter the US? I paid to check with ESTA to see if I can, I put the information of my passport and everything but I answered "No" to all the questions such as "have you ever stayed in the US" and apparently my passport's good to go since I got authorization to enter the US from ESTA.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

P.S : I was not arrested nor did anything out of the ordinary
P.S 2 : I left the US willingly by myself.

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    You knowingly entered false information on your ESTA application? That's...not a great plan. – Zach Lipton Oct 18 '16 at 16:19
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    Misrepresenting yourself when dealing with passports and visas is extremely ill-advised— if anything, lying on your application will be taken more seriously than overstaying when you were a teenager. – choster Oct 18 '16 at 16:29
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    A tourist visa application with all questions answered truthfully would be a way of testing if you are currently allowed to visit the US. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 18 '16 at 16:30
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    I suspect that your history of living in the USA (illegally) is clouding the issue for you. You can't just (legally) go back & live there. As a foreign citizen you'd need a residence visa (green card) to stay indefinitely - and there's probably at least another half-a-billion people in the world who'd like the same thing.. Simply landing at a US airport with nothing but an ESTA is likely to result in you being put on the next flight back to France after the immigration officer questions you about your plans - even if they don't connect you to your previous overstay. – brhans Oct 18 '16 at 18:11
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For purposes of this answer, I'm ignoring the overstay and false information in the ESTA application.

There are a number of routes to getting lawful permanent residence in the US, but they tend to be difficult. For example, one of the commonest is H-1B, but that takes a job in an occupation that normally requires at least a bachelor's degree or equivalent. Advanced degrees make it more likely that an employer will sponsor you. You have a long way to go educationally for that to be practical.

However, living in the US may not be the only solution to your real problem:

.. life in France isn't what I expected. I got used to the American way of life and I miss it a lot.

Have you explored different areas of France? From my limited tourist experience, Paris and Alsace seemed very, very different. As an EU citizen, you have freedom of movement. You can visit anywhere you like in the EU, and stay there if you find a job. If you don't find anywhere you like in France, try other EU counties. I don't recommend the UK right now, because of Brexit.

Another option may be to work on a cruise ship, especially if you have, or can get, food service experience and are fluent in both English and French.

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You were given an entry stamp for a 3-month stay but ended up living there for 9 years?

To enter visa-free for 90 days, obviously your family must have stated that you're travelling for tourism, business or transit (or else the CBP would not have let you in), which was likely not the truth in your case.

In this case, no matter what you say, no matter what you do, when you apply at an embassy for a visa and are interviewed, all the staff needs to refer to is section 212(a)(6)(C)(i) of the immigration law to summarily deny you a visa. It states:

In general.-Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this Act is inadmissible.

This is independent of whether you exited voluntarily or not.

If they deny you on this basis, you will need to specifically request that they instruct you on how to obtain a waiver, which is basically legal forgiveness. Takes a long time and in my opinion, even if you plan to move in, say, one year, it will certainly pay off to start getting this sorted out now.

Depending on how serious they consider your case to be, you may or may not need to hire an immigration lawyer.

As for your ESTA, it is invalid. It doesn't matter that it says it's approved. You lied on it and as such it is invalid, full stop.

That said, you would probably get away with - if you did not want to move back to the States, but only visit. However, because you talk about moving back there, a 9-year overstay plus lying on an ESTA is not a good combination, since when applying for a visa to move there, your entire US immigration record will be analysed

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    "which was obviously not the truth in your case." You don't know that. It could have been the truth and then they could have decided to stay after entering the US. – user102008 Oct 18 '16 at 18:05
  • @user102008 Which is explicitly not allowed under the VWP, under penalty of deportation. Holders of B visas can change Status in the US, but not visitors in WB/WT Status. So they broke the law regardless – Crazydre Oct 18 '16 at 18:11
  • Is there even any realistic basis for the OP to be able to "move back" to the USA to live & work indefinitely? The USA doesn't just hand out green cards to anyone who comes knocking... – brhans Oct 18 '16 at 18:17
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    @Crazydre: I never said that they did not overstay. But you specifically claimed in your answer that they "obviously" lied at the time of entry, which you don't know. – user102008 Oct 18 '16 at 18:21
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    But the lawbreaking "they" in this case may not be the minor child, personally, or at least the minor may not be held responsible. He won't have accrued "unlawful presence" for admissibility purposes until he turned 18, so what happened before then that caused that won't be his problem. The 5 years after that is his problem and is still sufficient for a 10 year admissibility ban, and the lie I'd worry about more is the one on the ESTA application if it is left the way it is. – Dennis Oct 18 '16 at 18:39

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