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What Happens at the Port of Entry During US Visit


The United States was ranked the third most tourist-friendly country in the world, according to an article on Travel+Leisure. The high quality tourism infrastructure in the nation make it a highly popular destination for visitors from all across the world, with almost 79.6 million travelers from across the globe entering the US in 2018.

To travel to this diverse country, you first need to apply for a US visit visa. Once your visa has been approved, you are all set to travel to the United States. The place where you set foot on US soil is known as your port of entry. Usually, this would be the airport at which you arrive in the US from your home country.

There are 328 ports of entry in the United States, including 116 airports and 14 seaports. Ports of entry are legally designated areas that are used as immigration check points. They can be at US land borders, airports or seaports. 

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What Happens at the Port of Entry During Visit?

Upon your arrival at a port of entry, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer will determine whether you are authorized to enter the United States, as well as the length of your stay. CBP officers are responsible for conducting immigrant, agriculture, and customs related inspections at the port of entry. Those with health concerns will be separately screened by a Public Health Officer. 

Here’s what you can expect upon your arrival at the port of entry:

  • On your arrival, you must follow the signs for immigration, which lead you to the immigration area. Separate queues are formed here, depending upon your nationality, as well as the type of visa. When it is your turn at the immigration counter, a CBP officer will check your passport and arrival form and, if everything appears in order, will put a stamp in your passport.
  • Then a CBP officer will inspect your documents and luggage, and ask some questions to determine whether you are eligible to enter the United States. The common questions asked are:
  • What is the main purpose of your visit to the United States?
  • For how long do you intend to stay in the United States?
  • Do you have the finances to support yourself for the entire duration of your stay in the US?

They will also check whether the documents presented by you match the purpose of your visit.

  • If the CBP officer is unable to verify your documents or feels a need for further inspection, you may have to go through a second inspection. This inspection tends to be much more detailed and aimed at getting additional information, without causing delay to other passengers.
  • After the verification of your documents, a digital photograph and digital fingerprints will be taken by the immigration officer.
  • Before leaving the counter, make sure you review the admission class and admission period that has been recorded on the stamp. In case there are any mistakes, the information can be corrected right away at the port of entry itself. 

It is advisable to keep all the necessary documents, such as passport, tickets, etc., with you at all times during the immigration process, to avoid any delays at the port of entry.

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Blogger, Entrepreneur, Mentor. Having lived in the US and the Middle East for about a decade, and gone through immigration many times, I have a lot to share. Add me on Facebook or contact me on WhatsApp +0014084894785

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