I come from England and can enter the U.S. for 90 days at a time without a visa. I’ve come to the U.S. six times in the last two years to be with my American partner, and the last time they almost didn’t let me into the U.S. airport. What’s going on?

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries   to travel to the United States without obtaining a visa, for stays of 90 days or less for tourism or business. Transiting or traveling through the United States to Canada or Mexico is generally permitted for VWP travelers.

Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

If you are eligible to travel on the VWP, but prefer to have a visa in your passport, you may still apply for a visitor (B) visa.

As a VWP Traveler you can travel to the United States without obtaining a visa for up to 90 days for business purposes.

Business Purposes include the following:

•           Consult with business associates;

•           Attend a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention or conference;

•           Attend short-term training (you may not be paid by any source in the United States with the exception of expenses incidental to your stay)

•           Negotiate a contract

As a VWP traveler you can travel to the United States without obtaining a visa for up to 90 days for Tourism Purposes:

Tourism Purposes:

•           Vacation (holiday)

•           Visit with friends or relatives

•           Medical treatment

•           Participation in social events hosted by fraternal, social, or service organizations

•           Participation by amateurs in musical, sports, or similar events or contests, if not being paid for participating

•           Enrollment in a short recreational course of study, not for credit toward a degree (for example, a two-day cooking class while on vacation)

Activities not permitted on the VWP and that Require Visas for Travel to the United States:

These are some examples of activities not permitted on the VWP and require visas for travel to the United States:.

•           Study, for credit

•           Employment

•           Work as foreign press, radio, film, journalists, or other information media

•           Permanent residence in the United States

Each Traveler Must have authorization under ESTA.

In order to travel without a visa on the VWP, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to boarding a U.S. bound air or sea carrier. ESTA is the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business.

If arriving by air or sea, you must be arriving on an approved air or sea carrier. You must also have a round trip ticket indicating return passage to a country outside the United States.

If you have had a U.S. visa before or previously traveled to the United States under the VWP or another status, you must have complied with the conditions of previous admissions to the United States, and you must not have previously been found ineligible for a U.S. visa.

You must have a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after your planned departure from the United States (unless exempted by country-specific agreements). For families, each member of your family, including infants and children, must have his/her own passport.

The Problem can be “immigrant and non-immigrant intent”. The fact that you belong to a visa waiver program participant country does not guarantee you the right to enter the United States territory at the time you arrive at the port of entry.

CBP (Immigration Customs and Border Patrol) are in charge of protecting the US Border and are the immigration authorities in charge to determine whether or not a foreign citizen shall be admitted or not and whether or not the foreigner citizen has an “immigrant intent” or the purpose of his or her trip is other than for business or for tourism.

As a citizen of the Country of England you are exempt from the process of applying and obtaining a non-immigrant visa or a visa for pleasure (B1/B2) with the American Embassy in England.

However, as a non-immigrant you have the burden of proof that you meet the statutory requirement for a non-immigrant tourist for pleasure/business visa and at the time of seeking admission at the US Port of Entry (airport) immigration officers can deny you entry even though you have the right to travel up to the port (USA port of entry) pursuant to you being a citizen of a country that is exempt from Visa.

It is very important to understand the difference between having a visa and being admitted or granted admission to the USA upon arrival to the United States Port of Entry.

A visa or visa waiver program members are not guaranteed the right to enter the United States territory but are given the right to arrive to the port of entry (airport) where admission will take place after inspection and questioning by an Immigration officer. The Admission is the process of allowing a foreigner with a visa or as in your case under the visa waiver program to physically enter the United States Territory for a period of time that is included in the form arrival departure record (I-94) and physically stamped in the foreigner’s passport.

Travelers should be aware that by requesting admission under the Visa Waiver Program, they are generally waiving their right to review or appeal a CBP officer’s decision as to their application for admission at the port of entry.

The length of stay is governed by existing rules and regulations and in the case of visa waiver program cannot exceed three months at the time, and in other cases, as holders of non-immigrant visas for pleasure (B1/B2) up to 6 months period that can be extended while in the United States before the expiration of the authorization of stay.

Therefore, the Immigration officer at the port of entry is the only officer in charge of authorizing a foreigner to enter the United States upon the arrival to the port of entry (airport) or another land port of entry, and has authorization to revoke any previously issued visa and order the immediate return of the foreigner to his country of nationality or submit the foreigner to a secondary inspection to determine whether or not the person will be admitted or his or her visa revoked in that case the alien is not admitted but paroled.

d as of April 27, 2011, when the US-VISIT program was instituted as its replacement.