Immigrations and Customs Experiences

Aug 4th, 2012, 04:51 AM
  #21  
 
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I once returned home through MIA. I'm usually pretty terse with "officials" so I had only one words answers. Where were you? Curacao. Why were you there? To dive. Did you enjoy it? Yes. How long were you there? A week. How many dives did you do? Twenty-five.

When he next said, Twenty-five is a lot; didn't your instructor tell you that? I said I AM an instructor and 25 was not unusual with the profiles I was carrying. Oh really?...for what agency? TDI, NAUI and PADI.

He saw I was getting eager to get through the line and those guys are pretty perceptive. So he smiled and said something along the lines of Hey, I used to dive, too, but I've lost my certification card. And it's been five years. And her wanted to get back into diving.

Long story short I met him a few days later at a dive shop pool, and got to grill him for a few minutes! Ended up passing him, ordering a new c-card, and had a customer for a few advanced courses!

Sorry ... no really BAD stories about those guys.
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Aug 4th, 2012, 06:32 AM
  #22  
 
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Heathrow has been my only bad experience with an immigration officer who thought I was trying stay in country. He asked about hotels, travel plans, whether I had a job back in the States. Just really accusing. Answered questions for over 5 mins and really left a bad impression. All other European countries have been great. Coming back into Dulles, I've been welcomed back everytime.
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Aug 4th, 2012, 07:53 AM
  #23  
 
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NoFlyZone
That's a great story. I guess we tend to forget that they are people too and have their own lives and stories.
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Aug 9th, 2012, 08:14 AM
  #24  
 
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I came back to the US after a short trip to London - 4 days - all I could afford as I was staying at the Waldorf. boy did I get questioned: why so short a stay? (The Waldorf is expensive) What did you do (theatre and shopping). Seemed incredulous I'd go so far for such a short trip.
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Aug 9th, 2012, 01:29 PM
  #25  
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Vicky,

I use to know the feeling as a backpacker returning to US.

"Is that all your bags and you have be gone for 10 days?"

Now with Global Entry, I just "talk" to the machine and I am thru Immigration and Customs in a zip
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Aug 9th, 2012, 05:38 PM
  #26  
P_M
 
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DMB Traveler,

You won't see anyone in Dublin wearing kilts. That's a Scottish custom.
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Aug 10th, 2012, 11:48 PM
  #27  
 
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Just out of curiosity and amazement:
Did I read the respecitive posts (e.g. the "diving post") correctly that also US citizens get asked question when they return to the US at US immigration (not customs, where it would be normal to inquiry if you brought with you certains goods etc)?

As a P.S.
After 30+ immigration procedures at US air borders (and twice land borders) I cannot say that I ever had an unfriendly immigration officer. Some of the "wannabee officials" or aiport security in a fantasy uniform who push around the hordes to line up at the right counters sometimes had somewhat of an unwelcoming attitude.
But the real officials/officers have so far always delivered an always professional procedure, and more often even a friendly chit-chat after the official questioning.

My last experience at a small Montana land border crossing was somewhat unusual, though. I was the only "customer" in the CBP building and the officer (not me) complained about all that stupid bureaucracy they have to enforce on simple tourists. And I had to tell him several times that I have no problems with that (as if there was a choice lol).
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Aug 11th, 2012, 05:13 AM
  #28  
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Cowboy1968,

In my experience, "Yes, they do". Although this in and of itself is not the problem. It is the manner and attitude in which it is done.

I am glad you have had pleasant experiences with US Officials and I hope there are more experiences like yours.
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Aug 11th, 2012, 05:16 AM
  #29  
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PM,

With enough pints of Guinness, many of men have been know to do many of things regardless of ethnicity or customs and I'll drink to that
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Aug 11th, 2012, 06:06 AM
  #30  
 
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Re questions at Immigration. I doubt I've ever gone through US passport control without being asked at least the basics: where did you go, for how long, why. I don't think they really care about the answers, but rather look for signs of deception in which case they would investigate a bit further.
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Aug 11th, 2012, 06:42 AM
  #31  
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So true about the Guinness DMB. LOL!!
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Aug 11th, 2012, 02:41 PM
  #32  
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NoFlyZone,

No doubt you are correct. It is just interesting how some countries officials make you feel welcomed and others don't.

However, it is nice to hear that there are the exceptional experiences.
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Aug 11th, 2012, 04:24 PM
  #33  
 
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One always get asked by US Immigration, including US citizens. Yes.
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Aug 11th, 2012, 09:24 PM
  #34  
 
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Interesting, thanks for the answers.
I did not expect that you also get "grilled".
Never happens when you go thru passport control the other way as a citizen.
If a border control dude in Munich had asked me all those questions like in the "diving story" I would have probably told him to mind his own business lol
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Aug 11th, 2012, 10:30 PM
  #35  
 
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Noboday said about being grilled. But one does get questions like "Where did you visit"? "How long were you away"? "Where do you live"? and "What work do you do"? That kind of question, preceded by "Welcome Back".
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Aug 11th, 2012, 11:02 PM
  #36  
 
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Yeah, I did not mean "grilled" as in a serious hour-long interrogation or as being treated like a criminal.
It was more the suprise that there are questions at all.

It's none of my country's border control business where I spend my vacation or what kind of work I do. If they had some intelligence that I spent my vacation in a training camp near Kabul, I'd probably not even make it to the passport checkpoint but get a "VIP shuttle" straight from the plane LOL
They can see my time spent outside the Schengen area from reading my passport when "checking out" and checking back in anyway, as well as my address. Even in the old pre-Schengen days, you'd never hear a question coming back.
OTOH, I never heard a "welcome back" neither LOL. It's not such an issue to go abroad and come back. Or to cross a border.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 04:26 AM
  #37  
 
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As I said, these border guards see hundreds of people each day. They don't care about any of them other than to determine they are legit. The questions are more of a way to elicit abnormal reactions than to get direct information. I've never seen them enter any of that info into the computer (then again, before Global Entry and still for many, that info is on the immigration form).

In the diving story there were no people behind me and his apparently random questions imply launched us into a conversation. One which ended up productive for both of us. (And he let me in, too!)

I have received a Welcome home! from well over half of them and they are almost always smiling by that time.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 04:32 AM
  #38  
 
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I should add that the worst border experiences have been crossing into Russia, and later into China, by train. Coming in from the Latvian border (I believe), the train stops for about 4 hours. In the middle of the night, of course.

They come around to collect all passports and disappear for a few hours with them. Then border almost-thugs come through, question everyone, search almost everything, and look absolutely everywhere for stowaways, extra cases and boxes, apparently so they can toss them, too.

An hour later they come back with stacks of passports and hand them back silently. Apparently they kept them all in order because they never had too go back and forth between compartments.

Best border experience ever was on the White Pass and Yukon train into Canada from Skagway, Alaska. The stop was scheduled for 10 minutes. The guard entered the car, asked everyone to be completely silent and then directed us to open our passports to the photo page and hold it next to our face. She then simply walked through the car and quickly glanced at each. At the end she thanked us all for our cooperation and welcomed us to Canada.
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Aug 12th, 2012, 11:18 PM
  #39  
 
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Of course Cowboy1968 won't hear a "Welcome Back" from a Schengen officer. Schengen immigration only hires mutes to man their counters - well, at least for the visitors line I've been in. But it's a totally different story in the UK. Those guys like to chat for minutes with every visitor.
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Aug 13th, 2012, 12:13 AM
  #40  
 
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And thanks heavens for that! The last thing I need after an 8-12 hour flight back home is a chatterbox in uniform.
Fortunately also UK Border control does not chat with me, or with anyone else with an EU passport.
Heck, I did not even get "questioned" when going to Canada last month, neither in Calgary at the airport nor at the land border after some days in the US.
At the latter, I was just puzzled that the car in front of me with MT plates (obviously no rental car unless Hertz started to rent beaten-up pickup trucks) needed three minutes, while my "immigration" into Canada took less than 30 seconds.
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