I’m writing this on the plane to Boston, the flight was delayed by an hour due to a problem with the left engine which is always what you want to hear before take off! It’s a nearly full flight with all of the usual perks such as limited personal space and dubious smells emanating from my fellow travellers. I thought I would use this mid air post to enlighten you all about the joys of entering the USA as a visitor while married to a US citizen.
I’m allowed to stay in the US for up to 90 days with the Visa Waiver Program. As the husband of a US citizen (USC) it is possible that the CBP officers will subject me to extra scrutiny at passport control because they feel I may stay illegally with my wife after my 90 days expire. Obviously I’m doing things the right way with the visa I’ve applied for but I’ve heard of foreign partners of a USC being refused entry before. To reduce this risk I carry proof of my ties to the UK including return tickets, my ticket home from Heathrow, my rental contract and payslips to prove I’ll leave the US. I also carry a copy of my spousal visa (I-130) application. As you can tell half of my luggage allowance is basically bloody paperwork!
On my last visit to the USA the CBP guy was professional and polite and when I explained I was married to a USC he merely asked who was moving where so I explained about my visa application. He then stamped my passport and welcomed me to the USA. On my visit before that I was questioned for over 5 minutes and the same questions asked twice to see if I changed my story. I’ve heard of people being questioned for a lot longer so i guess I’ve been lucky so far. Every visit is different but it’s important to never lie and to be polite, these guys are only doing their jobs and having an attitude will only make your US entry harder.
Hopefully today will be the last time I need to enter the US on the Visa Waiver Program. The next time I visit the US it should be as an immigrant with my documents ready to be processed at the airport. After that I’ll be a legal resident with a greencard and entering the country will be much easier. I hope this post explained a little about visiting the US and the processes at Passport control for those who are curious or nervous because they are visiting while dating a USC.