There are so many places to explore in the United States, that it’s rightly one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world. Whether it’s the Grand Canyon, New York, or Chattanooga, America should always be on your bucket list, even when you tick it off!
However, just because you book a flight and accommodation doesn’t mean you will walk into the country. The US has some of the toughest immigration services, and the prospect of being turned away is scary. Also, with so much to remember, it’s feasible that you’ll forget to do or bring something essential.
One wrong move could leave you stranded with no place to go. So, it’s vital that you get your ducks in a row before landing. That way, you’ll increase your chances of sailing through customs without anything to declare but your love for traveling. Remember – immigration officers do have the power to make discretionary decisions.
Okay, the odds of being deported are low. Still, you don’t want to waste hours in an airport answering questions while your vacation slips away. It’s a bad start to any holiday. To prevent that, you should take a look at the following advice.
Check Your Country’s Advice
Every nation has a governmental body that keeps up to date with the latest travel changes. Head to yours now and you’ll see nothing but news on the impacts of Covid-19, for instance. But, when the industry returns to normal, you’ll receive the most up-to-date information regarding the USA’s entry requirements.
Although it sounds like a straightforward tip, it’s often something that goes under the radar. After all, America is viewed as an accessible nation, and this encourages visitors to arrive without doing any research. Extensive research takes away from the experience, especially when you have lots to do before flying.
However, your government’s website should break everything down into categories. For example, the UK’s Foreign Commonwealth Office, gov.uk, has sections on everything from entry requirements to the latest news and areas that are less secure. With this, Brits can easily figure out what they must do to travel and have fun in the US.
It’s a healthy habit since traveling will change in the short-term as a result of Covid-19. You might need proof of vaccination, such as a vaccine passport, to gain entry, as South American nations do with yellow fever. Therefore, it’s smart to cover all the bases.
Apply For An ESTA
Holidaymakers won’t get into the US without an ESTA. According to esta-america.com, it’s the Electronic System Travel Authorization program that screens visitors. This allows US immigration officers to make a decision about a potential traveler before they spend money on transport.
There are some things you need to know. Firstly, it is only applicable for 90 days. After that, you must leave, unless you extend your ESTA or apply for a full visa. Secondly, it lasts for two years, which means you don’t have to reapply if you plan on traveling to the States within that period. However, help.cbp.gov does say you will need to fill out the documents again if your details change, such as your name or gender, or you get a new passport.
Probably the most important tip is to bring proof to the immigration desk at the airport. While the ESTA information should be on the system, it doesn’t stop an officer from asking for the details. Plus, you can bypass any issues with the server by giving a confirmation number.
A printed copy is helpful for airlines, too. They know you’ll be turned away if you can’t prove you have an ESTA, so they might want to see some proof before you board the plane.
Prepare Evidence For Your Stay
Organization evidence of the information that isn’t on the Customs and Border Protection agency’s system is the most important thing you can do to ensure the process goes smoothly. After all, they don’t know where you will stay or what you’ll be doing in the US, and that makes them naturally suspicious.
You shouldn’t take it personally because they are doing their job. More importantly, you can eliminate any doubts by providing basic details. Your return flight out of the country is at the top of the list. Your ESTA only lasts for 90 days according to confused.com, so it needs to be within that period. Otherwise, your application will be denied.
Next, it’s essential to have details regarding where you will be staying. The name of the hotel or hostel will suffice, as will the full address. A contact number for the front desk should be enough if they want to call someone to double-check.
Backpackers who usually confirm accommodation on arrival can do the same in America. However, it’s worth noting that it will take some explaining. The easiest option is to choose a place for when you arrive so that you have the information they want.
Bring A Pen
Yes, a humble pen will make everything go smoother when you speak to an immigration officer. Why? It’s because an ESTA isn’t all the US requires to give you entry into the country. Customs also asks you to fill out a couple of pieces of paper concerning your stay if you’re not an American citizen or resident.
It should be the simplest task in the world, but it isn’t when you’re traveling because a pen is hard to come by. Even the airlines don’t have enough to go around! You can wait until you leave the plane, but by that time you’ll be at the back of the line because it took you ten minutes to answer a few questions.
Packing a pen in your hand luggage lets you get on with the job as soon as the air stewards and stewardesses give you the sheets to complete. Then, you can store them safely in your bag and enjoy the rest of the flight, knowing that when you hit the immigration desk, you’ll have everything you need.
Have you traveled to the US before? What advice made the process more straightforward for you?
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