For first-time travelers to the USA (or any other country), you must understand that obtaining a visa doesn’t automatically guarantee entry to your desired destination. It, however, indicates that you are eligible to seek entry for the purpose of your visit, and you must appear before an officer of the Department of Homeland Security/Customs and Border Protection (CBP), at the point of entry.
So, your visa application was successful and you were elated, you found a cheap flight to USA and finally, you touchdown the land of the free, hoping to start updating social media on your whereabouts, then you discover that you still have to subject yourself to another interview.
Did I hear you say “Not again”?
Well, listen up!
Bear in mind that information provided during your visa application will be available to the interviewing officer at the point of entry, therefore you must be consistent with your response. The CBP officer must be convinced that the purpose of your visit is legitimate. If you do not appear trustworthy, fail to answer the questions asked by officers of the CBP or you attempt in any way to undermine their authority, you may be denied entry and sent back on the next available flight.
Here are some questions you should expect and the suggested responses:
Why are you here in the USA?
Your answer should be short and simple. E.g I am here on vacation, for a conference, for a wedding etc.
Ensure you have all supporting documents relating to the event you are attending. E.g for a conference you may require proof of registration for the conference and the schedule of events.
If you cannot prove that you have genuine reasons to visit the USA or the officer is not convinced that you will leave within the specified period, you may be denied entry.
How long will you be in the USA?
Go for days, it makes you look serious. E.g “I am here for 14 days”. If your stay will exceed a month, then use weeks. E.g “I am here for 7 weeks”.
Where will you be staying in the USA?
“I will be staying at XYZ Hotel in XXX.”
Do you have any family or friends you will be visiting in the USA?
Now, this is where you have to apply wisdom. For a first time visit, it’s always wise to keep things simple. Unless you are staying with this family member or friend, then I do not think an affirmation is necessary.
Note that you will be required to provide information including the home address, phone number and other personal details of your relationship with the person.
How much are you traveling with?
You should never lie, because if the officer is in doubt, you may be required to show proof of such funds. E.g, your response should be “I have USD1,000 cash and a valid Debit or Credit Card”.
What do you do for a living?
Learn how to package yourself!!! The English language has made it very easy to find vast words that succinctly describe anything you do, no matter what it is.
E.g If you are a Security Guard you can easily describe yourself a Security Consultant. Be creative and help yourself look good.
If the officer is satisfied, your passport will be stamped and you will be on your way to fulfill your American dream.
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