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Going through immigration together

Going through immigration together

Old Dec 5, 08, 2:32 am
  #1  
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Going through immigration together

Might be a stupid question, but this crossed my mind while driving home from work today.

When is it okay to go through the immigration desk together? Is this just for families? Can you do it when you're not related too (e.g., friends or coworkers)?
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Old Dec 5, 08, 2:55 am
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Not stated, but I assume you are talking about the US. Married is fine. Partners and one will usually be asked to step back. Not for friends or co-workers.

The real test would be: Do you share a I-94 with the other person. Then, no.

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/..._cbp_decla.pdf
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Old Dec 5, 08, 2:56 am
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Don't know about now, but the criterion used to be "are you traveling together?"
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Old Dec 5, 08, 4:52 am
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We are not married and going together through the immigration and customs have never been a problem outside of the US.

However in the US it really depends on the clerk, sometimes it's ok, sometimes they have the "you are not a family" -attitude. We have share the customs declaration form so it doesn't mean anything.

Considering that nowadays most people don't change their last name, may not carry the wedding ring while travelling, and the marital status is not shown in the passport or other ID's, why do they care? We could say we are married and they have no way of checking it.
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Old Dec 5, 08, 5:11 am
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a couple of weeks ago at IAH a young guy (The ones that help with queing etc before you reach the immigration official) sent my wife and me (she is a citizen , I merely visit with a visa) from the citizens line to the regular one

I asked him if it was a new regulation and he looked at me dumbfounded while saying "No", he even suggested that we could go in different lines, she in the citizens and I on the visitors one

I am 99% certain that he was wrong on both counts (going on the other line and being able to go on separate lines), I would love to see the expression of the immigration official if he asks "are you married? where is your wife?" and then I answer "oh she must be waiting for me in customs....she just went through the citizens line"

This was the first time in literally 50 or more trips that this has ever been an issue

I tried to find a link from CBP or something to print and carry with me but couldn't find any
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Old Dec 5, 08, 5:30 am
  #6  
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Originally Posted by wolfie_cr View Post
I am 99% certain that he was wrong on both counts (going on the other line and being able to go on separate lines), I would love to see the expression of the immigration official if he asks "are you married? where is your wife?" and then I answer "oh she must be waiting for me in customs....she just went through the citizens line"
Why would you be asked about where your wife is? Most people on this board would probably say "home, waiting for me" or "home with the kids".

I don't think there's an obligation to go through the same line when traveling with your partner. I see it more like a convenience.

HTB.
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Old Dec 5, 08, 5:38 am
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Pasengers: Myself (US), my wife with different last name (UK), my daughter with my last name (US) and my step-daughter with same last name as my wife (UK).

April in ATL: Wife-to-be and myself in same citizens/residents line. I got "please step back sir" while I take care of her.

April in AMS: Now married. Same line, EU Citizens. Very unhappy agent. Acted as if I should be detained for being in the wrong line. Mainly because in AMS, they think permanent EU residents need stamps and the EU line agents don't bring their stamps to the booth.

Nov. in ATL: Now married, but no change in paperwork. All of us in same line. Agent directing people frowned and implied that we would be sent back because even 1 of us was not a resident or citizen. Passed no problem as a family unit.

Nov. in BRU: Agent directing traffic tells us we could have gotten in the EU Citizen line. Passed as a family.
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Old Dec 5, 08, 5:45 am
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Originally Posted by htb View Post
Why would you be asked about where your wife is? Most people on this board would probably say "home, waiting for me" or "home with the kids".

I don't think there's an obligation to go through the same line when traveling with your partner. I see it more like a convenience.

HTB.
You would be surprised to hear about some of the creative questions they come up when trying to asert if I am going to stay illegally or not. Let's just say that being married to an US citizen and not being a US resident......they think I am either a) Crazy b) Ready to stay illegally

If I was an immigration officer and someone would tell me that a couple travelling together cleared separately.......even I would be suspicious
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Old Dec 5, 08, 5:58 am
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Crossing back into the States from Canada by road, a few mnths ago
1. my friend US passport
2. me Australian passport
3. my daughter, Australian passport, different last name to mine

seemed to ring all sorts of alarm bells, asking if we just met the day before uh

where we met, how long we have known each other, yada yada
we always breeze thru everywhere... so it was a bit of shock bein asked so many questions,
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Old Dec 5, 08, 10:13 am
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I've entered the US from Canada (@ YVR pre-clearance) a few times with friends, and I've had the officer get angry with me for both situations.

1) Walk up alone, friend stands behind red line:

(Officer looks up at friend standing behind red line): "Are you two traveling together?"
"Yes, sir."
"Then why ISN'T HE UP HERE WITH YOU!?!?!"
(Friend hustles forward.)

2) Another time, walk up together, friend stands next to me.

"Are you two a family (sneer)?"
"No, Sir."
"The GET BACK BEHIND THE RED LINE!"

So it's really hit and miss.
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Old Dec 5, 08, 10:47 am
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Originally Posted by ojala View Post
Considering that nowadays most people don't change their last name, may not carry the wedding ring while travelling, and the marital status is not shown in the passport or other ID's, why do they care? We could say we are married and they have no way of checking it.
I think that's really incredibly risky if you are a visitor!

If for any reason you are selected for further questioning and they subsequently find out you are in fact not married, then you will have knowingly made a factually incorrect statement to an immigration officer and you are quite likely to find yourself on the next plane home!
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Old Dec 5, 08, 11:08 am
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a former boss of mine (from the UK= visa waiver) checked a few times in the visa form that he had not been convicted of anything

fast forward a couple of years, when he applied for permanent residence in the US...they went back to his visa waiver forms and discovered that there was an inconsistency between "I havent been convincted" and the new paperwork he was presenting

at that point everything went to hell

therefore I won't lie about anything to an immigration officer (Even if my answers can trigger even worse questioning, at least I can always say I have been truthful)
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Old Dec 5, 08, 1:42 pm
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Originally Posted by wolfie_cr View Post
therefore I won't lie about anything to an immigration officer (Even if my answers can trigger even worse questioning, at least I can always say I have been truthful)
Good policy!
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Old Dec 5, 08, 4:44 pm
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LHR usually invited SO and me to step forward together.
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Old Dec 5, 08, 4:58 pm
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Ditto on it bein random hit/miss.

Going into the UK at Gatwick a friend and me were traveling together and there was a school group of teens ahead of us.. like nearly preteens. They explicitly split the kids up into singles - there was a barker.

Then when it came my turn, i went up, got asked where i was going and with who etc.. and the girl says "Why aren't you together then?" as my friend was at the next counter. He was giving the identicle info about who/what and she heard it and said "next time, stick together."

Coming back into EWR, they were doing it by "group".
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