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Arriving into America

Arriving into America

Old Jul 22nd 2016, 11:46 pm
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Default Arriving into America

Probably seems like a silly question... But I am flying out to America next week to begin my life over there with my husband. When I actually land in American, with my large envelope in hand! which queue should I join? The general, tourist queue with all the holiday makers of the American citizen queue?
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Old Jul 23rd 2016, 12:11 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

There is generally one queue for US citizens and green card holders and another queue for everyone who is neither a US citizen nor a GC holder, so it should be a no-brainer.

If you get into the wrong queue by mistake, I doubt they'd bother much though!
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Old Jul 23rd 2016, 12:13 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

NB: it's not a "tourist queue" - it's a queue for non-citizens and non-permanent residents. A lot of the people in that queue will likely be US residents on one visa or another
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Old Jul 23rd 2016, 12:26 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

When I entered the large arrivals customs hall at LAX, there was an immigration agent directing people. I asked him and he sent me over to a separate lane.

That guy took my envelope and had wait in a small holding pen over to the side where another agent came and had me fill out a form. He stamped my passport, gave me a print out on being an immigrant and sent me on my way. I was expecting to be sent into a glass room in secondary or something... it was all a bit anti-climactic.
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Old Jul 23rd 2016, 2:47 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

If in doubt, ask someone! That's why there's airport workers!
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Old Jul 23rd 2016, 5:02 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Originally Posted by jambey2510 View Post
If in doubt, ask someone! That's why there's airport workers!
This. It often varies by airport and day of the week.
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Old Jul 25th 2016, 1:41 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

If I remember correctly when I was in the same position as you I joined the non-citizen non-permanent resident queue and everything was just fine! Technically at that point you are still a non-citizen non-permanent resident so I think that's what I would do.

Congratulations by the way. You must be filled with excitement and anticipation. You have just completed one long journey in your application and now another journey of adventure awaits you! I hope it exceeds all your expectations.

Where will you be living in the US?
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Old Jul 25th 2016, 3:12 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Whilst technically it's correct that you're neither a citizen nor yet a permanent resident and so should use the general non-US / non-PR line, definitely ask and you'll most likely be sent to the citizen and/or resident line. This is even more likely if you're traveling with your USC spouse.
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Old Jul 25th 2016, 3:25 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

I came through LAX and stood in the normal non-US line.


One of the staff saw the big plastic envelope, and took me to the US line, went through there with the minimum of fuss and no secondary, very happy with that result!!
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Old Jul 25th 2016, 3:33 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Thank you all for the replies.

I am flying into Orlando and been to that airport numerous times over the years. There is normally a guy directing people to which side of the huge entrance hall they should go to, so I guess I will check with them.

As an add on question, does anyone know roughly what steps need to be completed as part of your entrance? I have my other half waiting for me at the airport and it would be nice to give them a rough estimate of how much longer I may be kept, as it's normally only 40 mins or so to clear orlando's customs and baggage pick up, they are a well oiled machine given the numbers of people they have arriving daily! But I've already been warned there is an extra wait for me due to the visa entrance
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Old Jul 25th 2016, 10:06 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Originally Posted by kidgodspeed View Post
.... As an add on question, does anyone know roughly what steps need to be completed as part of your entrance? I have my other half waiting for me at the airport and it would be nice to give them a rough estimate of how much longer I may be kept, as it's normally only 40 mins or so to clear orlando's customs and baggage pick up, they are a well oiled machine given the numbers of people they have arriving daily! But I've already been warned there is an extra wait for me due to the visa entrance
It's impossible to say, it could be an extra 20 minutes, or it could be 2+ hours. It depends on how many staff they have on duty and how many new immigrants they have to process. There is only about 10 minutes of things to do, it just depends how long you have to wait - it took me 20 minutes, and most of that was just waiting around.

Last edited by Pulaski; Jul 25th 2016 at 10:08 pm.
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Old Jul 26th 2016, 11:45 am
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Took me 5 mins only (after getting to the front of the line), the CBP officer looked over my I-797 checked it against the Visa in my passport - 2 questions on who my employer was what my role was - then stamped and through. That on an L1 visa in the non-citizen non-perm resident line at Newark.
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Old Jul 26th 2016, 2:04 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Originally Posted by Crux View Post
Took me 5 mins only (after getting to the front of the line), the CBP officer looked over my I-797 checked it against the Visa in my passport - 2 questions on who my employer was what my role was - then stamped and through. That on an L1 visa in the non-citizen non-perm resident line at Newark.
Your experience, and mine, are not comparable to what the original poster will experience.

Spouse visa holders are classed as immigrants, so will always go to secondary processing. L visas are non-immigrant visas, so secondary processing will only be needed if the CBP officer suspects something is wrong.
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Old Jul 26th 2016, 2:06 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
It's impossible to say, it could be an extra 20 minutes, or it could be 2+ hours. It depends on how many staff they have on duty and how many new immigrants they have to process. There is only about 10 minutes of things to do, it just depends how long you have to wait - it took me 20 minutes, and most of that was just waiting around.
Right - there is no way of knowing how long it will take. When I arrived (via the non-resident line in Newark, for the sake of information, but in 2005 so it's probably all different now), I was taken into secondary for seemingly no other reason than they had to print me off an EAD application, since that's all they gave me. Nevertheless, I still had to sit there for 45 minutes or so waiting, which is why I gave myself 4 hours for my connection to Chicago, which itself was delayed by another 3 hours due to weather
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Old Jul 26th 2016, 2:20 pm
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Default Re: Arriving into America

When I arrived at SFO, there was a special line for people like me with large brown envelopes. I couldn't have been in that immigration hall any longer than 10 minutes.
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