Some time ago I mentioned that I’ll be travelling to the US in November. I’m still sticking to the plan. Flight and the hotel have been booked for weeks and as I’m not a person to do anything last minute I thought I’d figure out the whole visa stuff way before it is due.
And man, I’m grateful I did this now. It took me some time to figure out what I’d need and what not. Wow, I’d say that the USA is one of the best, if not the best-protected countries in the world. Growing up in “free Europe”, where you don’t need anything else than your National ID to travel from Gibraltar to Iceland and where I normally start travel preparations one day beforehand, I have to admit I was a bit shocked.
First, of course, you’ll need a passport. No problem. I got the biometrical photo taken and had my passport within 3 weeks. So, check.
Then, if you’re staying less than 90 days you don’t need to apply for a visum, but can enter the country via the VISA Waiver Program. This means that you only have to fill the ESTA-Form before your journey. You fill in the general information about the person, flight and your stay in the US. No problem, check. But then there’s the second part: You have to answer a bunch of questions concerning your “crime” history – fortunately in my case I’m a blank paper, so no problem here, again. Check. BUT, just reading the questions frightened me.
Of course, being a responsible and frequent traveller I re-checked what I was allowed to take along and what not. That’s all no problem. Same rules world-wide. Check, again.
That’s the point where I reached the information about finally entering the country. I will have to fill another form (which is quite similar to the ESTA-form) while I’m on my flight. After landing I’ll have to go to Custom Border Control to hand them the form. Then there will be taken my fingerprints, another photo and I’ll be asked a few questions regarding my stay in the USA: recreational/holiday.
Then I’ll be welcomed to the United States.
Of course, there are the “horror stories” and there has to be the regulatory framework, also indicating the possibilities if there is something missing in the paperwork. So, I just hope that I have everything needed and that all the preparation will pay back in the end.
Does anybody have any advice on what to pay attention to? Any “horror stories” you’d like to share? 🙂 Or any uplifting information that as always everything’s just half as bad?