Q. I’m planning on a vacation trip out of the United States soon. Is there anything in particular that I should keep in mind?
A. You didn’t mention your immigration status, which is, of course, a key fact. In any event, as it happens US Customs and Border Protection (CBP – the officials you encounter when entering the US) have just released a list of travel tips because this is spring break season at US colleges. Here is what they said:
• Make sure that you have the proper travel documentation, both for the country you are visiting, as well as for your return.
• A passport is now required for returning US citizens when flying internationally.
• US and Canadian citizens 19 years and older who enter the US at sea ports of entry from within the Western hemisphere will need to present government-issued photo ID, along with proof of citizenship or a passport; (travelers under the age of 19 will need to present only birth certificate or alternative proof of citizenship).
• Find out about rules and regulations on food and agricultural items before you travel: some are prohibited or must meet certain requirements, such as a license or permit.
• When you arrive at a port of entry in the United States you will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer; be prepared to provide the purpose of your trip and information on items purchased or obtained abroad.
• If you are a visitor, the CBP may require you to provide your biometrics, digital finger scans, and photograph to verify your identity against your travel documents. This process is similar to the one experienced to obtain a visa.
• Visit our “Top Ten Traveler Tips” page on the CBP web site [cbp.gov].
• CBP reminds travelers to visit the State Department’s website for the latest travel alerts [state.gov].
For non-US citizens, IIC also advises that people planning to exit the US and return after a trip abroad be careful to consider whether their immigration status in the US in fact allows for reentry. In some cases there are ways to obtain reentry permission from the US immigration authorities before a trip; neglecting to do this can result in denied reentry. Those with any uncertainty in this regard should contact IIC before they travel. Likewise, it is important for non-US citizens to have proof of their immigration status when they go abroad, which can include, for example, a permanent resident card, or sponsor-endorsed I-20 for F-1 visa students and DS-2019 for J-1 visa holders.
Disclaimer: These articles are published to inform, not to advise. Areas of law are rapidly changing. US Citizenship and Immigration Services and US Department of State regularly amend regulations and alter processing and filing procedures. For legal advice seek the assistance of an IIC immigration specialist or an immigration lawyer.