Travel Documents and US Port of Entry

TourismTravel Documents and US Port of EntryUSA

Non immigrant on a closed-loop Trip to Mexico

slide on carnival cruise

When I was still a “non immigrant” between k1 visa and getting a green card, I was able to go on a closed loop cruise to Ensenada Mexico with my family.

We wrote about it on 3 day carnival inspiration cruise ensenada mexico and here:

During our 3 day cruise from Long Beach, California to Mexico, I was worried that they would not let me on the ship since I am not a US Citizen.  I am a citizen of the Philippines and my status in the US is that of a “non-immigrant” in the process of getting a permanent residency card.  Right now I have been issued an I 512 parole card.  Months ago, I applied for my permanent resident card but I have not received it yet. The USCIS in Colorado takes almost a year before the applicants can get their permanent resident card.

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K-1 visa processStep 5Travel Documents and US Port of Entry

Moving to America flight preparation I

moving-to-america (3)

So, you are moving to the United States and need to make flight preparations!  First of all congratulations and welcome to the USA.  I am currently in the US. I came from Cebu City, Philippines.

Moving to America Flight Preparation:

  • Ticket.  When booking the ticket, make sure you have about 3-4 hours layover between a connecting flight and your port of entry.  If there are any issues with immigration, three hours should be enough to work things out unless there are serious issues.moving-to-america
  • Passport/Visa and gate passes. Make sure your visa documentation/paperwork is ready, it will DEFINITELY be checked.  Always have your tickets and your passport readily available in your carry-on, in your pocket, in your purse.  Where ever you keep it should be where you can quickly grab it and display it. It is always checked in every airport for you connecting flights.moving-to-america (3)
  • Comfortable clothes and shoes.  Be aware of the weather of your final destination.  America has areas as hot as Saudi Arabia and places as cold as parts of Europe.  You should carry the appropriate clothes with you.  In a connecting flight, you won’t be able to claim your luggage (with your clothes in it) until you reach your port of entry in the United States.  If you are from a warm environment moving to a cold area, bring the thickest jacket that you have from your closet and wear a closed toe shoe. The weather is totally different in most states in the US. I understand that women including me wants to look good by wearing high heels shoes. However, wearing high heels stilettos and wedge won’t help during your travel. You will do a lot of walking through the airport so forget it.moving-to-america (2)
  • Gadgets.  You can bring your mobile, laptop, tablets in your hand carry.  Well for me it is very important. Time will pass by quickly if you are busy playing Candy Crush while waiting for your next flight 🙂 Some gadgets will have to be taken out during security checks (usually just laptops). moving-to-america5
  • Toiletries. For women who are travelling, a long flight is so uncomfortable and inconvenient. In your hand carry, bring a small pouch for your perfume/cologne, make up kit, tissue/baby wipes, hand sanitizer and other stuff that you can’t live without 🙂 . Ensure each bottle you are bringing should contain 100 ml or less. Bigger bottles are not allowed even if they are containing less than its size.moving-to-america-7
  • Prescription. If you have an important prescription medication, make sure you have enough to last the entire flight.
  • Food. A small pack of snack will really help while waiting for your next flight. After passing through the security, buy a small bottle of water. You also want to buy a packed meal to bring with you just in case you don’t like the food that they serve in the plane.
  • Cash. Bring some cash.  Remember some airports may not have conveniently located ATM machines, some ATMs may not take your card so you may need cash.  Calculate how much you will need and adjust for the cost of the exchange rate.  Also, consider certain terminal fees, for example, if you are coming out of the Philippines, you have to pay P1600.00 for your travel tax.  All Filipinos who leave the country have to pay travel tax. No exceptions.  You may have different fees for your country.moving-to-america-5

My personal experience moving to America:

Port of entry : Takoma, Seattle

Arrival Date: September 27, 2014

Article date: Oct 2014

On my travel day, I had 3 connecting flights to Colorado. It was tiring. I’ve learned my lesson. You have to thoroughly scan everything from your ticket, pdos sticker (philippines), passport, important files and some cash while travelling. Everything is new, every airport in each state is different, currency changes per country, and people you meet are in a huge variety of races. Everything was a rush in the airport. You have to be physically and mentally prepared during your day of travel or it can  get very exhausting. You have to be flexible and adaptable to be in a totally different environment so you won’t get stressed out. The travel took 24 hours for me because I missed my flight after the port of entry. It was hard and my butt was hurting from the very long travel.

 

Prepare your expectations:

Some people immigrate to US with the idea of finding the “American Dream”.  Though it was never my personal goal to move to America (I come here only to be with my husband), I can definitely see why many people move here.  There is a level of opportunity, convenience, comfort and freedom that many American citizens take completely for granted.  I hear many American complaining about “first world problems.”  Not everyone has it good here, but most have no idea what real poverty and real corruption is.  From the outside looking in I would say there is still an American dream, but its only for those who work hard, dream big, and don’t give up.

What many outside the US do not realize is how each state is very different: Different laws, different weather, different attitudes, different lifestyles.  Your experience in Hawaii, for example, will be very different than your experience in New York.

To people who are also moving to USA, goodluck guyzzz 🙂 and have a safe trip!

 

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K-1 visa processStep 5Travel Documents and US Port of Entry

US immigration and Customs

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Us immigration and Customs

Well, we finally did it!  I am in the US with my fiance!  We completed all of the documentation required for the I-129f, Petition for Alien Fiance.  We submitted the package to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and tracked it all the way to the US Embassy in Manila.  We completed the medical review, prepared and passed the fiance interview with the US consular officer.  All of this came with a cost in not only money but time and hard work.  So we feel we deserve our reward… each other.

If you are on your way and have done as much as we have done, there are a few things you should know about your port of entry.

image: bforbag.com
image: bforbag.com

During your day of travel, do a final review of your checklist to double check all the things you need to bring.  Ensure that you are not bringing anything that is prohibited at the US port of entry. Also bring a small pack of snacks (some snacks from the Philippines are actually prohibited in the US – see below).  You should buy water after you get through airport security or on the plane.  Remember that  if you have a stop over in another country (such as Japan), you cannot purchase anything without exchanging your money. You may have a limited time to do that if you have a short rest stop.

  • Filing – ensure you arrange and pack your important files before the day of travel.  Don’t forget important items will be hard to get once you leave.  You should take original documents like school records, birth certificate and Certificate of No Marriage or Annulment that may be needed in the future.

    k-1 visa process
    clearbook, photo scrapbook
  • CFO Sticker – check your CFO sticker that is stapled inside your passport. You cannot leave without it. CFO does conduct seminars in the airport for Filipinos who missed their predeparture orientation seminar (PDOS) but I suggest you do it ahead of time to avoid flight delay.
  • DO NOT forget your passport AND yellow packet.  Once you attain your US Visa, your passport and a yellow packet can be delivered to your home address (or can be picked up at 2go MOA branch). The yellow packet contains your original copy of documents that are submitted during the interview and your Medical result from SLEC. There is an instruction on the back that tells you are only allowed to open the plastic to take your passport. It is prohibited to open the yellow packet. US Immigration is very strict and it might cause delay in entering the United States. Ensure to bring it with you (hand carry), not in your check in baggage.

    image:visajourney.com
    image:visajourney.com
  • Arrival at your port of entry – Once you arrive at your US port of entry you will go through a line at immigration and you have to hand over your passport and the yellow packet.  After confirmation, they will let you through. They also put a stamp next to your visa showing that you are allowed to stay for 88 days.
  • Claiming your baggage. If you are on a connecting flight, you can only claim your baggage in your US port of entry. Your baggage is automatically transferred to another plane for your next flight.
  • Customs Check – In the queue passing through customs, you must fill out the declaration form. You need to have a detailed list of what you brought in your luggage.  It is the form given during your flight to the US.  The custom officer will point out the agriculture area. Another custom officer will ask you if you are bringing chicharon (lol).  It is not allowed so they will confiscate it if you have it. Food like dairy products, chicken and pork fresh or not will be confiscated.

Important Note:

1. Wear a jacket and a sneakers (or boots if available) its a very long uncomfortable flight.

2. Bring toiletries in your hand carry.

3. Do not pack chicharon or anything that contains chicken and pork.  They will put the bag through x-ray machine and you will be asked to open your bag for additional food check. They are pretty serious about it so its best not to bring them.  After that process, you can proceed to your connecting flight.

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