Excitement is building. You went for your visa interview at the U.S. consulate
and hurray!! you got your visa. Now you are getting geared up for
your travel to the land of Disney – the U.S. You prepare a list of clothes
and shoes that you will carry along with you, you take at least a week to decide
what you are going to wear to the airport, you do not miss any opportunity
to call each of your friends to tell them that you are going to the U.S., etc.
But, have you really planned for a hassle free journey?
There are very few people who know all the precautions that they should take
to make their travel hassle free. By saying this, I do not mean that you should
not be excited about the fact that you are travelling to the U.S. What I do
mean is just undertake few travel precautions and you can double your happiness.
What sort of travel precautions? In this article, we discuss 7 travel
tips which will help the travelers to the U.S. to be prepared for a safe journey
and a secure stay in the U.S.
- Check the validity of your passport: Before
leaving for the U.S., or I would say even before you pack your bags, just
sit back and check the validity of your passport. In general, your
passport must be valid for at least 6 months
beyond the expiration of your period of admission to the United States.
You have to make sure that you will be able to leave the United States
at the end of your authorized stay and proceed to your home country, or
another country. However there are certain exceptions to this rule. Under
international treaties, many countries have agreements with the U.S. whereby
a passport is deemed valid for six months past its expiration date so that
the foreign national can return to his or her country of citizenship.
- Check the validity of your visa: The
visa that is stamped on your passport by the U.S. consulate officer reflects
the status that you would be maintaining in the U.S. For instance, if you
have a B-2 visa
stamped in your passport, your status in the U.S. will be as a tourist
visitor and you have to maintain this status.
Now back to what we were discussing, before you land in the U.S.,
it is important that you check the validity of your visa so that you avoid
a surprise at the port of entry and the risk of falling out of status
in the US. How? Let me explain…if you get to the U.S. port of
entry and your passport is only good for 2 months, you may not be allowed
to enter, or you may have to seek a waiver of the 6 month requirement.
- Check if your visa permits single entry or multiple
travelling to the U.S., you must also check to see if your visa is a single
entry visa or a multiple entry visa. Many people who travel to the U.S.
on a Business and Tourist visa get confused about the concept of single
entry and multiple entries.
Travelling to the United States under the Visa Waiver
Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows nationals of designated countries to enter
the U.S. for up to 90 days without a visa,
provided that they meet specific registration and passport requirements.
If you are planning to travel under the VWP, you will need to have a valid
registration in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at
least 72 hours before your departure for the U.S. If you have already registered
in ESTA for a previous Visa Waiver Program trip, you don’t need to
re-register as long as your registration is still valid and you have not
obtained a new passport since your registration. Also, make sure that your
passport meets Visa Waiver Program requirements, i.e., it is machine readable.
- Check your baggage: This is just as important as the other
travel precautions we have discussed so far. There are certain commodities
that you will not be allowed to carry with you to the U.S. There will be
a check at the airport, and if it is found that you are carrying and materials
that are prohibited, you may land in trouble. You need to carefully plan
the things that you carry with you.
Some of the items prohibited by the U.S. government include:
Absinthe (Alcohol), Alcoholic Beverages, Automobiles, Biologicals, Ceramic
Tableware, Cultural Artifacts and Cultural Property, Defense Articles or
Items with Military or Proliferation Applications, Dog and Cat Fur, Drug
Paraphernalia, Firearms, Fish and Wildlife, Food Products (Prepared), Fruits
and Vegetables, Game and Hunting Trophies, Gold, Haitian Animal Hide Drums,
Meats, Livestock and Poultry, Medication, Merchandise from Embargoed Countries,
Pets, Plants and Seeds, Soil, Textiles and Clothing (if not for personal
use and exceeds limit), certain Trademarked and Copyrighted Articles
- Check what you are wearing to the airport: It is very
important that you carefully choose the clothing to wear to the airport.
It is always advisable to dress conservatively. Over dressing or the wrong
clothing can make you the target of criminals. To avoid being a target of
crime, do not wear conspicuous clothing or jewelry, and do not carry excessive
amount of money. Also, do not leave unattended luggage in public areas
and do not accept packages from strangers.
- Check your behavior: Your behavior at the airport may
decide your destiny. You have probably heard the old saying, “never
take things for granted.” Similarly, even though you got the visa,
you cannot be sure that no one can stop you from getting into the U.S. This
is a false notion. The U.S. immigration and customs officials at the airport
and U.S. ports of entry have the authority to restrict a person from entering
into the U.S. if they perceive or feel that person is danger for the country,
or even if they suspect that the person is an “intending immigrant.” To
overcome this risk, do not engage in fights and arguments, whoever it may
be – an airport officer, or a common person, or a fellow traveler -
avoid engaging in conflicts.
- Check if you have gathered all the required information: It
is always good to gather information about the process at the airport, what
sort of inspections you have to go through, how much luggage you can carry
(number of cases and weight), what you can expect at a U.S. port of entry
The old proverb says that precaution is better than the cure, and when it
comes to international travel, this saying is one hundred percent true. If,
in case you fall into trouble, there is almost always a way to work your way
out of the problem. But why wait for the problem to come when you can simply
avoid them with the 7 U.S. travel tips that we discussed in this article.
Congratulations! You have landed in the United States, one of the most beautiful
and varied countries of the world. Just following these 7 U.S. travel tips
can make journey to the U.S. an experience that you will cherish your whole
Wish you happy journey!
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