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Accompanying someone through non-citizen lane at Customs/Immig.

Accompanying someone through non-citizen lane at Customs/Immig.

Old Jul 8, 07, 5:31 am
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Question Accompanying someone through non-citizen lane at Customs/Immig.

I am bringing my girlfriend with me when I arrive in the U.S. at Dulles (IAD) tomorrow. She has a tourist visa and speaks only limited English. Do I have to go through the U.S. Citizen Customs/Immigration Line or can I accompany her through the "Visitor" channel? She is a little nervous that they will ask her questions that she won't understand.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 7:12 am
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Bring her with you through the citizen lane and be prepared for pointed questions about the nature of your relationship and how long she'll be staying. Even with the questions, this will go smoother than having her go it alone.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 10:15 am
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Doesn't Surprise Me

Thanks for the info.

Given the difficulty she had getting a visa, I am not surprised that she will face pointed questions. She was refused the first go around by the U.S. Embassy here in Beijing.

I was lucky enough to meet the Assistant to the American Ambassador in China who gave me some advice. I had been talking to my Congressman's office in Nebraska and the Ambassador's assistant advised me to get a letter "written" and signed by my Congressman. I was lucky that my Congressman was helpful and had a helpful assistant (both Senators from Nebraska basically ignored me). After receiving the Congressman's letter and a supporting cover letter from the Ambassador's assistant my girlfriend was approved right away. I am thinking that it is probably a good idea to bring a copy of the letter with us when we go through Customs/Immigration tomorrow. The Congressman's letter discusses our relationship, so it probably can't hurt!

Beijingexpat
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Old Jul 8, 07, 10:26 am
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I'd bring all of that stuff, expecting the worst.

From my experience, the officials will be very curious about your relationship and will want to know if you intend to get married while in the US. The answer needs to be "no" and you will want to have the return ticket handy to help prove her intent to leave the US.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 2:14 pm
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Originally Posted by bollar View Post
I'd bring all of that stuff, expecting the worst.

From my experience, the officials will be very curious about your relationship and will want to know if you intend to get married while in the US. The answer needs to be "no" and you will want to have the return ticket handy to help prove her intent to leave the US.
From personal experience, I second this post.

So sad that we have gone from a "Welcome to America" to a "Don't let the door hit you on your way out" society
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Old Jul 8, 07, 2:32 pm
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I guess the real question is, if you have a valid VISA, you have already answered questions at the Consular office and met their satisfaction, so why any questions at all at immigration?

I'm just very opinionated, but I think the immigration 'questioning' process should consist only of pleasantries while the passport is being scanned. This goes double for people trying to return to their own country. No "What do you do?" or anything like that. Just "Welcome to America".

If someone has satisfied a consular officer enough to cause them to issue a VISA, what is a two bit immigration officer at the border going to uncover?

(No offense to immigration officers)
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Old Jul 8, 07, 2:41 pm
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Originally Posted by etch5895 View Post
I guess the real question is, if you have a valid VISA, you have already answered questions at the Consular office and met their satisfaction, so why any questions at all at immigration?
Agreed.... but what about the movie, "The Terminal"
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Old Jul 8, 07, 2:42 pm
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Originally Posted by etch5895 View Post

If someone has satisfied a consular officer enough to cause them to issue a VISA, what is a two bit immigration officer at the border going to uncover?

(No offense to immigration officers)
For the same reason that the US DoS issues a ton of visas every year and then ends up revoking a bunch because they either didn't do the proper background checks or the DoS's own paperwork wasn't filled out properly.

No offense to the DoS
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Old Jul 8, 07, 6:14 pm
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Originally Posted by bnarayan1511 View Post
From personal experience, I second this post.

So sad that we have gone from a "Welcome to America" to a "Don't let the door hit you on your way out" society
I'll also agree. Be sure to have the return ticket in hand. Sadly, when the USCIS sees a foreign gf/bf traveling to the US, they are immediately suspicious and will be looking for a reason to deny the foreign national's entry. Anyone who says otherwise has never been through this process. I have and it's not fun whatsoever. Good luck and be prepared.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 6:15 pm
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Originally Posted by bollar View Post
I'd bring all of that stuff, expecting the worst.

From my experience, the officials will be very curious about your relationship and will want to know if you intend to get married while in the US. The answer needs to be "no" and you will want to have the return ticket handy to help prove her intent to leave the US.
A return ticket is rarely seen in these days of E Tickets and are often less expensive than a 1 way fare so treated as largely irrelevant by Immigration. Better to have evidence of strong ties to home country such as a letter from employer stating date due back at work etc, mortgage or lease agreements etc etc. Intent is all in the mind of the interviewing officer. A visa does not however guarantee a right to enter the US as many have found out to their cost.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 6:30 pm
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Originally Posted by bollar View Post
I'd bring all of that stuff, expecting the worst.

From my experience, the officials will be very curious about your relationship and will want to know if you intend to get married while in the US. The answer needs to be "no" and you will want to have the return ticket handy to help prove her intent to leave the US.
That's correct, but it's important to give an explanation.

First of all, answer the question truthfully.

Assuming that the parties actually do not intend to get married, that's very good since the foreigner is coming here on a B1/B2 visitor's visa. If she has the intention on arrival here to get married, she needs a K1 fiancee visa.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 6:35 pm
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Originally Posted by Landing Gear View Post
That's correct, but it's important to give an explanation.

First of all, answer the question truthfully.

Assuming that the parties actually do not intend to get married, that's very good since the foreigner is coming here on a B1/B2 visitor's visa. If she has the intention on arrival here to get married, she needs a K1 fiancee visa.
Actually it is not correct. The answer does not need to be no. She only needs a K1 if she intends to immigrate here. She can come to the US on a B1/B2 and marry then return home again if she so wished. Likewise she could come with no intention of marrying have a sudden change of mind whilst in Las Vegas and get married on the spur of the moment and then apply to adjust status. Or she could well you catch my drift by now

Bottom line is there is nothing to stop anyone legally free to do so, from getting married in the US regardless of the visa they enter on. The intent issue is with regard to immigrant intent not nuptial intent.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 6:53 pm
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Originally Posted by lifeonitsown View Post
Agreed.... but what about the movie, "The Terminal"
C'mon now...What are the chances that your home country will cease to exist while you are in transit, and then that the immigration authorities would not consider an entry waiver due to circumstances beyond your control.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 7:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Newryman View Post
Actually it is not correct. The answer does not need to be no. She only needs a K1 if she intends to immigrate here. She can come to the US on a B1/B2 and marry then return home again if she so wished. Likewise she could come with no intention of marrying have a sudden change of mind whilst in Las Vegas and get married on the spur of the moment and then apply to adjust status. Or she could well you catch my drift by now

Bottom line is there is nothing to stop anyone legally free to do so, from getting married in the US regardless of the visa they enter on. The intent issue is with regard to immigrant intent not nuptial intent.
Wow, what nitpicking!

Okay, you want a reality check? Here you go.

Boyfriend who is a U.S. Citizen enters with foreign girlfriend (the activity suggested in this thread). An Immigration inspector asks if they are planning on getting married.

I repeat, the question should be answered truthfully. I'm assuming that girlfriend says they will get married.

At this point, in the real world, nothing else will "unring" that bell. If she did not come in on a K1, the inspector will deny her entry and likely charge her with visa fraud.

The scenario to which you refer only works when you have a foreign couple who want to get married here and return home.

In this day and age of the Patriot Act, it is not wise to play fast and loose with Immigration or any other laws affecting non-citizens, "if you get my drift."

An Immigration inspector in most cases has the unfettered, unappealable authority to deny entry to non-lawful permanent residents.
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Old Jul 8, 07, 7:16 pm
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Originally Posted by Taker Park View Post
For the same reason that the US DoS issues a ton of visas every year and then ends up revoking a bunch because they either didn't do the proper background checks or the DoS's own paperwork wasn't filled out properly.

No offense to the DoS
If the State Dept. is not doing its job properly, maybe the fix is in that organization as well. In any case, the US border after spending multiple thousand dollars on tickets and a VISA is no place to spring a surprise like 'turn around and go home' on someone.
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