US visa-waiver program

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Joi ito has had a few stern looks from the US INS regarding visa waiver forms.

I can relate.

I have a UK passport by virtue of the fact that my father was born in the UK (mostly by accident – another fun story). So I also know about the visa waiver program – it used to cover me too. Until one day I flew into the US briefly, on my own plane, to visit friends in DC as part of a long trip. When we arrived at Dulles, the immigration officer said there was a small problem. The operator of my plane had never signed the visa-waiver treaty, and so despite the fact that I had entered the US 27 times previously on that same passport, without a visa, they would now have to decline me entry.

But before doing that they would:

  • take me in for questioning
  • search me (I objected to the strip search, they relented)
  • fingerprint me and send those fingerprints off around the world (no, Mossad is not looking for me, yet)
  • examine for obvious tattoos and other distinguishing features
  • ask me to sign a statement of wrongdoing (I declined)
  • terminate my visa waiver access – from then on I need a visa

A complication was that, because they did not have records of all the times I left the USA, they believed I had previously stayed for longer than the 90 days. Fortunately I was able to get copies of all my inbound and outbound tickets faxed to them, so I think they eventually came to believe that I had not actually overstayed the visa program ever.
Then they let me back on the plane, we flew to Ottawa, the US embassy kindly gave me a visa, and we returned to the USA.

Now, flying into the USA I am ALWAYS sent off for extra questions and paperwork. And on applying for a new visa, I have to fill out the form for “people with a criminal record” (cross out the criminal record part, write in “visa waiver declined”, I kid you not). It’s a joyless process.

Hello, land of the free, knock knock.

I fell in love with the USA once. It was built on beautiful principles. Alas, it appears to have forsaken those in the name of security and expediency. As a result, I think the world is looking for a new source of inspiration – a new country where the most interesting people of the world can arrive, feel welcome, and feel free. Joi, best you be sure to hand that little green form back, every time.

197 Responses to “US visa-waiver program”

  1. Tam Perth Says:

    Interesting read.

    UK passport holder looking to bring family to US (Las Vegas, Arizona, California holiday). I was arrested once in UK many years ago and released within 60 minutes – never prosecuted or convicted. I believe I therefore have to get a visa (day trip to London $300, visa $100, police record request $60). I need that hassle just to come and spend my $20,000-$25,000 in the US.

    I have booked three weeks in South Africa instead.

    Has anyone in the US worked out how much tourist money the US is losing through their current actions?

  2. tiarja Says:

    Hi Everyone..

    I’m a student (UK Citizen) Visiting the US for Gap Year purposes.

    i recently booked a single ticket to the NYC with the intention of booking my return when i arrive.. mainly because i’m still undecided of my depature date so i didnt want to book the return as of yet. i do not intend to stay over the 90day visa waiver. although my problem is..
    will i still get through the US Immigration?

  3. Paul Bergbusch Says:

    I would definitely recommend having that return ticket with you. I believe it’s one of the basic requirements for obtaining entry as a visitor. Immigration will often ask you if you have a return ticket, and will sometimes ask you to produce proof. If you buy a standard return ticket, usually you can change the return date later for a small fee (sometimes they’ve even forgotten to charge me the fee, but that was a while ago). The cheaper tickets sometimes don’t allow you to change dates, so I think the extra cost is worth it in this case.

    I speak from experience, not from entry into the US but from entry into the UK. I am Canadian, working in the UK on a 5-year ancestry visa. My girlfriend has dual Mexican/Canadian citizenship. She has come to visit me in London a few times in the past, for up to a couple of months at a time, and each time she’s come, immigration has gotten increasingly stingy.

    Over the holidays we went to Sweden, and on our arrival back in the UK at Stansted airport, she was detained, questioned, fingerprinted, and generally harrassed for TWELVE hours, because (1) she admitted she did not have a return ticket to Canada; (2) she admitted that she did not work anymore in Canada. I called them many times during this TWELVE hours trying to figure out what was going on, and eventually they decided to question me also. They questioned her and I separately about the nature of our relationship.

    So they naturally assumed that she was in the UK to stay, because she had no return ticket, no job to go back to, and a boyfriend in the UK. Which is in fact incorrect — she had every intention of returning. But I suppose the immigration people can only go by what they see… I suppose we could have lied, but I’m a crappy liar.

    They were going to send her back to Sweden, but I talked them into granting her a temporary stay, and she flew to Mexico about a week later.

    We’ll be getting married in Mexico in the near future, and at that time she’ll apply for a marriage visa to the UK (with a lawyer’s help). But I worry that her name is on a list somewhere, and she’ll be hassled again when she tries to enter the UK (and other countries), with valid visa or not…

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  5. rajesh Says:

    Come to India…. Everyone is always welcomed here. Yeah not a rich country like USA but more beautiful than you can imagine. The crowd, the traffic, the zeal, the variety, the food, the unity in diversity, the music and i can go on and the list wont end. You better come to India and see it for yourself.

  6. Not easy to enter US soil Says:

    […] US visa-waiver program […]

  7. bob the chef Says:

    sandis: that’s completely irrelevant and such common knowledge and old news (as in, like 50 years old). you can’t enter cuba on an american passport for different reasons than what is being described here. while some of 2600’s stuff can be interesting/amusing (rarely), it is mostly a pile of worthless rubbish. you enter cuba as a national of another country (that is, someone like shuttleworth who has dual citizenship – i don’t know what mentioning your other citizenship would do at customs). i actually don’t know what relations the uk has with cuba, but i’m guessing there is none of that embargo/entry crap going on since canadians can enter cuba, no problem.

  8. bob the chef Says:

    sandis: that’s completely irrelevant and such common knowledge and old news (as in, like 50 years old). you can’t enter cuba on an american passport for different reasons than what is being described here. while some of 2600’s stuff can be interesting/amusing (rarely), it is mostly a pile of worthless rubbish. you enter cuba as a national of another country (that is, someone like shuttleworth who has dual citizenship – i don’t know what mentioning your other citizenship would do at customs). i actually don’t know what relations the uk has with cuba, but i’m guessing there is none of that embargo/entry crap going on since canadians can enter cuba, no problem.

    i am not a US hater by any means (there are pluses and minuses to each country), but we are living in many respects in a society similar to soviet russia when it comes to privacy and imperialist mentality (russia is still in that mindset, mind you. that is why a b&w ‘anything against the US is right’ view is so stupid…well, it’s not even worth mentioning because i would do better for my sanity). the part that is worse about the US gov’t is that it is far more successful as fooling its citizens into thinking they have their best interests in mind, and keeping a lid on their activities targeted at freedom. While its true that a good many people in Russia are still as blinded as they were under the Communists (who are we kidding, the same guys are in power), believing that Russia was somehow the savior of mankind (just listen to what some have to say about the Red Army, their praise of Putin and related sadness ), the US is far less conscious of its gov’t’s manipulation. People are also too bogged down in the rat race to notice these things (somehow, I don’t believe that to be purely coincidental, but that’s for another day).

  9. digital guerrilla / papers, please Says:

    […] Ah, America. Where you’re free and even encouraged to travel as you please without restriction. Well, unless you’re Belgian or South African. And, in a few years, unless you’re an American: The REAL ID Act requires that a REAL ID driver’s license be used for “official purposes,” as defined by DHS. In the proposed rule, DHS is proposing to limit the official purposes of a REAL ID license to those listed by Congress in the law: accessing a Federal facility; boarding Federally-regulated commercial aircraft; and entering nuclear power plants. DHS may consider expanding these official purposes through future rulemakings to maximize the security benefits of REAL ID. […]

  10. Dr. Hubert Kleinpeter Says:

    Dear Joi,

    The war on terror appears to be a war on citizens; it is a war against nature and culture. Recently the justice department attempted to seize and destroy a book i am writing about how the rise of the american police state was institutionalized by the war on drugs – the model – the template of the war on non white americans…American needs to lift the prohibition against cultural influences. The history of the US is essentially of a culture composed of Bibles, Guns, Whiskey and slaves – be they poor workers or out right servitude……

    I agree, America is relegating itself to a minor player in the new world economy…Other nations are inventing technologies of the future…The future will be led by non Americans developing information, ideas and new sustainable technologies which will be shared and not carved up and sold to the highest bidder… I agree, America is increasingly becoming non important…especially when it invest in violence and oppression….Perhaps the concept of replacing a monarch with a political state, then ranking this world by the power of a gun…the nation state is a failed, or an exhuasted concept…we are all creatures of the earth…we are earthlings all…

    Warning: Stay away from America – it evolved into an oppressive technocratic machine chewing us all up..

    Dr. Hubert Kleinpeter

  11. Bev Martin Says:

    My mother has been turned down for a visa to visit me from South Africa in the US.
    She has been several times before and always leaves exactly when she is supposed to. She has no intention of living in the US and just wants to visit her daughter and granddaughter.
    Do they really believe that security is compromised by grannies visiting their grandchildren?
    I am very sad that families are kept apart and for no reason that I can see. Having grown up in South Africa in the midst of the troubles, I do know what it feels like to live in a police state with censorship and a lack of freedom. Will the US bottom line not be affected by turning away so many toursit dollars? Does anyone have any suggestions to apply for a tourist visa and to make it plain that a grandmother visiting her child and grandchildren is a blessing not a threat?

  12. David Rooney Says:

    Like a lot of the comments left here, my story is so what like yours. My father was born in America to Irish parents who where Green Card holders. My father from about the age of 7 was raised in Ireland. Where he met my mother. They got married and had me and my older sister. In 1985, my Father got me, my mother and sister green cards and we moved to New York. But after my parents slit in 1988, we moved back to Ireland and my father stayed in America. In 1993 my Mother gave the US Embassy in Dublin mine and my sisters green cards back. And in return we got 10 year holiday visas so we could see our father. When my Mother gave back the Green Cards the Embassy assured her that it would never come back on me and my sister.

    Since 1993 I have made about 76 trips to America. And not once did I ever over stay. When the holiday visa expired in 2003, when I was 20 I just used the visa waiver. A lot of the trips I made where for no more then a week. So I didn’t really feel a holiday visa was needed. Everything was grand, I would get asked extra questions about my Father and my trips to America. And I would always carry copies of his birth cert and any other documents I felt they would ask about.

    On the 8 of November 2005, I was returning to America for my Fathers birthday and Thanksgiving. I got stopped in Shannon Airport by Irish born US immigration staff. The gentleman that was reviewing my documents appeared to be nice and asked me the usual questions. Then he asked did I have legal status in America and I told him straight out NO. He told me he wanted to double check I didn’t and asked me to follow him and have a seat out side the office. After about 15 minutes I was called into the office. Where for 3 and half hours I was questioned. They told me I was living in America, which wasn’t true. And thats why I was going back. No matter how many times I told them, they kept saying I was living in America. It was 3 immigration officers questioning me all at once. I had to at one point ask for one of them to leave as the office was small. All during these questions, they kept writing on the computer and taking notes. When I asked to see what they where writing, I was told I wasn’t allowed to see. That the freedom of information laws in Ireland and Europe didn’t apply, they told me under American law they didn’t have to show me and if I wanted to see I would have to contact DC. But I was refused entry into America, so how could American law apply. All the while they where trying to put words in mouth and twist things to make the case stronger for them. The whole time I was made to feel like I was a criminal, I don’t have a criminal record at all.

    After my return to Dublin the next morning (because of them I missed the last flight to Dublin and had to stay in a hotel). I headed straight to the Embassy. Got an appointment a couple of days later and I was flat out refused. I have applied for a visa 2 times since then. Each time refused straight out. Last July my sister got married in America (to an Americian), the Embassy wouldn’t let me go to the wedding. My whole family went and I was the only one left behind. I also have two younger sisters who are America born. One is 3 and the other is 10 months, the embassy wouldn’t let me fly over to see my new little sister and I have yet to meet her. The latest reason for not issuing a visa is I haven’t proved to them I have strong enough ties to Ireland. The company I work for I have since I was 17, I have bank loans, credit cards and a very ill grandmother (who I am close with). I don’t know how I can show them I have strong ties to Ireland or convince them I live in Ireland and I am going to keep it that way.

    Now to me it seems that their reasons for denying me are partly to my Mother giving up my green card. Every time I have been to the embassy they have made it clear they wanted to know about the green card. I was 10 years old when it was given up. It was out of my control.

    I am planning a visit to the embassy next month, and this time my Father is coming over to come with me to see he him being there helps. Fingers Crossed!

    – Dave

  13. archie Says:

    Many of US citizens said in their posts:
    “We do you a favor when let you enter the USA”.
    That’s right, formally true, I agree.
    Just imagine, how would you feel, if YOU, a CITIZEN of UNITED STATES, would had problems passing any border?
    You do not know, guys, what the hell it is, when you are considered as shit, when passing the border, just because you do not have US passport.
    Yes, it IS a discrimination. And yes, USA is a country with double standards. You’ve just proved that with your posts. You cry out about democracy, but thats bullshit. Total, overall control is what you have.
    Canada is slightly better, but big brother is watching it.
    Considered to apply for canadian visa after two years under Work Permit, now am thinking about Russian citizenship. Seriously…

    P.S. Discovered Linux through Ubuntu a year ago, thrown out Windows since then. Thank you for your job! I indeed appreciated it!

  14. Denis Campbell Says:

    I have never overstayed my Visa, and do not have a criminal record. I have been detained at “Secondary Inspection” several times. I was told that I am “spending too much time in the USA”. I subsequently tried to find out from the INS both by phone and personal interview, what “too much time” means. I was told there are no rules, not even guidelines and that it is solely at the discretion of the Immigration Officer at the port of entry.
    If they said something like – “you have to be out of the country longer than you are in it” that’s fine, but there should be some rules. Then the UK can apply the same rules to Yanks coming here – and see how they like it.

  15. david christopher miedzianik Says:

    DEAR ??? i typed blonde haired visa woman, or something like that, into GOOGLE and it came up this site: can i have a date out with a blonde haired b2 visa woman at the us embassy here in LONDON ??? as i don’t have a girlfriend at present ??? and i’m bob dylan’s greatest bbc radio request writer: so i don’t want A SONG AND DANCE about me writing this on your site ??? seeing that bob dylan is just a SONG AND DANCE MAN so he once said: LOVE: david christopher miedzianik :(age 50 years old ): say…med-gen-nick
    cyber-cafe opposite TRAVASTOCK SQUARE: LONDON: 07847607522 ps: she didn’t give me my b2 visa but she typed into my passport that my visa appilcation had been recieved:
    i have ASPERGERS SYNDROME: so i might be able to act right if she gave me a date out: i have been to the USA about 20 odd times or so: i was in IDAHO SPRINGS, COLORADO, USA,
    on SEPTEMBER 11th 2001: i’ve not been to the USA for over 2 years now: instead i’ve been to PARIS, FRANCE, about 4, or 5 times, or so: I managed to get hold of MR CLINTONS signature on a photo down here in LONDON: so things might start being OK for me from now on ??? CHUCK LEE MAJOR from colorado, was in the military in vietnam war: he told me that immigration things are changing from week to week: so i still might get into the USA OK again one day ??? i get into PARIS, FRANCE, OK on the eurostar: it makes me very, very, angry not have a date out, with a woman, or a girlfriend:

  16. Marconi Says:

    “World is full of complainers….Fact is, nothing comes with a guaranty. Go on, complain, tell your problems to your neighbors, ask for help…..and watch them fly!”
    They say that in Russia, they have everything mapped out, so everyone can pull for everyone else….that is theory any way….All I know is TEXAS,
    and here…you are at your own”
    BLOODY SIMPLE, Tarantino, I guess.

    But anyway, as I see there is over a million summing up all 2c above, and Mark certainly does not need that….anyway lets help his fortune if it is for the help of Linux community….let me add my 2c

    >>>>Obvious things:

    America is great.
    France can be great, if where not for the French language witch I don’t speak…. 🙂
    America People can be great.
    French people can be great.
    People can be great.
    Customs is correlated to low intelligence, anywhere.
    Extend to all bureaucratic people, because bureaucracy is a cancer everywhere and it is like entropy, only grows, who has never been to England?
    Linux is bureaucratic, but is getting better :), sorry but I use SUSE, but may change….
    All this Security Paranoia will not change terrorism. But I would check for crazy people everywhere…..even with blue eyes….but certainly with long beards…or hungry kids steeling my fries at Mac Donald’s in Berlin, as it happened once.
    Well, flying is a rich people thing, let alone in a personal plane, I am from Brazil so you must figure out a whole lot world outside the “rich people with colorful visas” countries. And by the way it is huge country using Ubuntu….very nice…
    Rich people can be great.
    I am not rich people, but I do fly sometimes…every rule has an ……..EXCEPTION!, good boy.
    BraSil can be great. But you must be not a Teacher.

    >>>>Not so obvious things,

    As a Mayor (perfectly stupid) up above complained….
    How to get this scenario better?
    If I new It all I would charge, and it would not be included in this 2c.
    More than Mark can afford…
    and more than the value of things that Bush can explode in a 8 years.
    Guess a Nobel would have to go into it as well.
    Just a hint. It has to do with why people get to war, conquer land and kill….so no European excuses here…


  17. Derek Says:

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been harassed by U.S. Customs at the U.S./Canada border between Detroit, MI and Windsor, ON. For people whose job mandates that they treat people politely and courteously, they have yet to demonstrate those virtues to me. This might sound like sour grapes but I’m not the only one. Friends of mine are afraid to complain because of possible retaliation from an officer. You see if you complain they know who you are but you never get to know who they are and that’s pretty damn scary. They just might have a little notation on the computer the next time you cross the border and guess what? I’m certainly no threat to any government (other than I vote) and I’m continually running into belligerent, condescending, rude, self centered, egotistical, arrogant, pompous thugs at the border in Detroit. (Yea I’m sugar coating it a little). Hey you guys, if you don’t like your damn job – QUIT! Nobody tied a piano to your ass keeping you there. Take that attitude to the private sector and try to keep a job.

  18. Mariah Says:

    Try Monaco – no passport required. They don’t check your entry nor your exit. They have nice views too.
    BUT it is a bit too small to accomodate the lots of you.

    United State of America – being there a few times, during the time I was in Canada. Frankly speaking, the officers at the entry point were fairly friendly towards me (airport, train, land). BUT I saw what they did to a few of my friends. It was the first time in America. We were on transit. From the group of 30+, 3 went missing. Found them at an area for questioning. Had to do some pleaing for their release – so not to miss the transit flight at JFK. Either its me or that the officers were on coffee-diet, and they let them go. I never asked my friends how they felt. My only conclusion is that, you need LUCK to avoid those hazzles/harrassment.Sometimes its your look, most of the times its the officers’ mood and of cause somebody was mentioning procedures.

    :: With the many “complaints” I still wonder why people still ‘WANT’ to go to AMERICA???

    Travel-wish list: New Zealand, Argentina/Peru, Tibet, South Africa, Mongolia/Siberia. Final-destination: Morocco. hehe

  19. Jeff T Says:

    Hey, if you figure out what that new country is, could you let me know? Thanks. Oh, and if that new country is in orbit… drop a rope ladder when you pass over wa state.

  20. Matt Says:

    The freedom was not relinquished for security, but for totalitarianism masking as security. The questioning and the paperwork have no substance, nor does the detainment of innocent people. They just want more control over the citizens and the people buy into it thinking it is for security.

  21. Jeffrey Henderson Says:


    You’ve got to get behind Ron Paul, he’ll fix this stuff for you no prob.


  22. The Worlds Smartest Man Says:

    No! I like Ron Paul, but a vote for him is a vote for the Republican party. We cannot give anymore power to that corrupt group of morons.

  23. Nicholas Evans Says:

    Mister Shuttleworth, I sincerely need to apologize for my governmnet’s behavior. Demanding to search a foreigner who would have departed on his own aircraft after being informed that he could not stay is completely inappropriate. What the hell possible use is that? It’s just needless harassment. Your situation was *obviously* a misunderstanding and not a soul was harmed by you landing and poking your head inside the terminal, so fingerprinting you and trying to make you into a criminal is also absolutely disgusting.

    I am sorry for your experience. It’s a mark against our own honor.

    I will go so far as to advise you not to come back. The INS is known for detaining people in horrendous conditions ‘just because’ the official on duty feels like it. It is a shameful situation, and I have thus-far been unable to convince my congresscritters to put the kibosh on this bullshit.

    Again, I am deeply sorry.

  24. atomicforce Says:

    That is really weird.
    If I had such experience I would not come back US ever,
    Of course some one will say this is “anti-terrorism” procedure… bla bla bla but this is BS to me.
    People have to be treated like people.

  25. hp Says:

    Hi Mark, take a look at Ron Paul – he will restore the constitution AND is an internet popstar..Maybe you also want to support him? Regards from Germany, HP

  26. Ubuntu User Says:

    I don’t understand the “poor rich boy” posts. This doesn’t sound like whining to me, just a run down of what happened.

    I think the real point here is that once a country starts to pull this crap it’s likely to start undergoing a brain drain. Happened to the Nazis (see the book “Hitler’s Gift” for example) and while I hope we’re not anywhere near that yet we, as a country, need to be mindful of how far we take this whole fear of terrorism thing.

    The fact of the matter is more US citizens have died in Iraq than from the original terrorist act. And it’s pretty clear now that war was gratuitous. How much more harm are we going to do to ourselves out fear of the terrorists?

  27. Living Off Dividends Says:

    land of the free my ass!

    I was often harrassed while flying domestically in the US. apparently my boarding pass always had SSSS printed on it which entitled to me extra-thorough searches.

    I filled out a form online on TSA’s website 2 years ago and then ended the misery. But I totally understand how you feel. If it wasn’t for my wife, I’d probably leave. Go someplace where you really have personal freedom – LIKE DUBAI!!!

  28. Warren Says:

    I haven’t been to the Moronic States since the constitution shredder stole it in 2000 and my life is better for it. Like I’m going to let some minimum wage processed food junkie with a grade 4 education determine my fate at an international crossing? There is absolutely nothing of value to be found in the USA. Nothing.

    Hurry up and start trading oil in Euros and let us flush that feeble clinging excuse for a currency, the US greenback, down the shitter for good.
    Even the Canadian dollar is kicking it’s ass for crissake.

  29. Mark Shuttleworth Nearly Strip-searche in US « Celoteh PakNik Says:

    […] More on the Ubuntu founder’s blog […]

  30. Ubuntu founder nearly strip-searched in US « Troubleshooting PC Problems Says:

    […] More details on the Ubuntu founder’s blog […]

  31. Lance Says:

    As a US citizen I sincerely apologize. Yes, our government is increasingly out of control. I’m not sure that my country is salvageable, but I cling to the hope that it is.

    If you ever find yourself in Colorado, please feel free to call on us- my wife and I. We’d be happy to have the opportunity to show you the hospitality we’d like our country to be known for, and perhaps we could have a good chat about your question of finding a new source of inspiration.

    All the best,

  32. Alan Carter Says:

    The part of the story that I don’t understand was, “… and we returned to the USA.”


  33. RJ Says:

    Sorry that happened to you, Mr. Shuttleworth. I don’t know much about you as a person, but if Ubuntu is any indicator, then you’re probably a pretty decent guy. Certainly not deserving of that kind of treatment by my people.

    With any luck, the US may yet wiggle itself out of this idiotic quagmire of brutish foreign policy and Soviet-era domestic security. I hope you won’t let this incident prevent future visits. Despite the obvious insanity at the gates, we really are glad to have you.

    Thanks for Ubuntu. 🙂

  34. Anon Y Mous Says:

    I’m very sorry about your hassles, Mark. Reading some of the comments above, I’m very sorry for America.

    Do note that I’m posting anonymously… as a green card holder, I’m worried about opening my mouth. I’ve led an exemplary life in the US over the last 25 years — literally not one brush with the police, not even a moving violation — but I perceive that I could lose my ability to live here and everything I’ve worked for in a few minutes simply by politely criticizing the government.

    I see a lot of posters above are happy that honest people live in fear of America’s new army of secret police and torturers. Where did all these psychopaths come from?

  35. Jack Jebedee Says:

    Hey, do you want to buy a Constitution cheap? It was written by some mighty smart fellows, did a whole lot of good for more than 200 years and we’re not using it any more.

  36. ilya Says:

    My aunt has multi visa (10 years visa for visitors). She came from Estonia to Miami last week second time this year. Well, they kept her 3 hours in a small room questioning. This is ridiculous. She is 60 years old. This is not the way people should treat each other.

  37. Chaos Motor Says:

    If we didn’t do everything we possibly can to ensure that everyone on Earth hates us now, we wouldn’t have to worry about terrorists. This is a problem WE created.

  38. Graham Says:

    Sorry America has turned to such shit, many of us are trying to stop it but the majority always seems to be many steps behind, I hope that eventually Americaw will once again be home of the (relatively) free, but for now all I can do is talk and take action where I can, sorry again.

  39. fp Says:

    hey Mark,

    i’m a fellow south african, without the benefit of an english passport – so on my 2 visits to the US i had to get visas via the US consolate in Cape Town.
    the first time i travelled on my own and only managed to get a single entry visa. – that turned out to be a curse as i was delayed and interrogated at each american airport. i was “randomly” picked each time for body and hand luggage searches. notibly i was detained on JFK for 6 hours trying to convince officer O’Neil that Hartford, Connecticut (where i was heading) actually exists. (i think he finally opened google and did a quick search).

    subsequently my wife and i went for a quick trip to the US. we had to get new visas (this time we managed to get 10 year multiple entry ones).
    on arriving at Dulles, the immigration officer managed to find my expired single entry visa in my passport, but didn’t bother to ask me about it and didn’t bother to look further for a new visa. He ordered us to sit in a corner and wait for someone to interrogate us.

    we waited for almost an hour. we thought we were going to miss our connecting flight. Then a badass border controll officer showed up, had one look through our passports, saw both my visas, stamped them and showed us the door.

    i’ve a lot of hope for the US post the next election. i’d love to spend a lot more time there.

  40. Masterbard Says:

    4 years ago I requested a USA visa and I have never felt so humiliated in my life not only did they treat me like a piece of garbage but they thought I was going to move to their country to live there. why would I move there in the first place? I have everything I need in my third world country. I took proof that I was traveling for business purposes and that I had more than enough money to travel with. but that wasn’t enough for them they somehow wanted more. the US embassy representant treated me as if talking to a terrorist. plus they never give you an explination for rejecting your visa all they do is give you some pathetic paper that says close to nothing. F””k U USA. I was going to make business with several companies there. fortunately I was well received in China and managed to make great business there. Good luck USA with your stupid policies and laws.

  41. Jack @ The Tech Teapot Says:

    Ooops, I overstayed my Israeli tourist visa a few times (I was told to by an official) does that mean that getting into the States is going to be a royal pain in the butt? Oh well, I’m not planning on going there anyway. 🙂

  42. Ubuntu Founder nearly Strip Searched in the United States « Salvador Crissie’s Weblog Says:

    […] read more | digg story […]

  43. pankajkumar Says:

    I have b1/b2 visa for u.s.a.and many time i traveled to u.s.a and this is my 6th trip to u.s.a. and they gave me 6th month visa for stay and after visa immigration they stopped me for chack the baggage and asked many many question and not only 1 officer but 5 to 6 officer arround me and asked many many question. realy i m tired about gave the answer but they no stopped. and they told me your 2nd last trip you stayed illeagle 8 month(this time i have 3 month visa) and (last trip) again i trip to u.s.a and styed 6th month .and those time i have no any problem. but i didnt understand at this time whats the problem and they banned me for 5 years to u.s.a.
    i dont know why ?because my last 6th month trip before my 8th month trip. then my last trip no any problem with me then why this time they banned me why?and this time also first they gave me 6th month visa and after chack my baggage and banned me.
    i went to u.s.a for business purpose and traveling also.then i asked some question what we do about for this problem .i traveled many countryes.
    please help us and give me some advice for my future.they write u can take chance and try to u.s.a.consulate for prove your true story and take another visa
    please help me and give me solution about 5 years banned..

  44. Patriot Says:

    Dear Sir:

    You were not stripped searched for travel on a non signatory carrier. That is a LIE. That has not and is not and never will be port of the SOP. It must be rough flying on a private plane. It is a shame that you have fly with the rest of us peasants.

  45. Mark Says:

    I know that was a hassel, but I can promise you, Canada is MUCH worse! I am married to a Canadian, and travel up to Onatario often, I have no criminal background, have had nothing in crossing that I should not have, passport and all documents in order, and they have repeatedly brutalized me in crossing, and dispite keeping records and making complaints, MPs and Boredr agents and canada immigration do nothing about it. Canadian border agents are alowed absolute power, so before you complain about the US side, fix your own! I have about reached the conclussion we should shut down the boredr for Canadians, until they learn to be honest and show basic human respect themselves, they just seem to complain alot as a hobby or something.

  46. fun stuff to do in idaho Says:

    fun stuff to do in idaho…

    You must put a lot of work into blogging this much!…

  47. Musings on Immigration » Blog Archive » Entering America Legally–Not As Easy As You Think! Says:

    […] the fact that you admit you did it will also get you barred from entry. Heck you will even be bounced from the United States after overstaying your visa for one day, leaving one day late, and then […]