Introduction

The excitement of touching down on U.S soil after a long and uncomfortable international flight never fades. However, some travelers arriving at U.S airports find their time in the U.S is fleeting. Every year, thousands of individuals are denied entry to the U.S upon their arrival, due to a simple failure to comply with the U.S’ stringent passport and evidentiary requirements. In this article, we examine some issues you need to consider before purchasing a flight to the U.S.

  1. Does Your Passport Have the Requisite Remaining Period of Validity?

The general rule is that a foreign national visiting the U.S must present a passport at the U.S border, which is valid for at least six months beyond the date of their departure from the U.S, under 9 FAM 403.9-3(B)(1)(U).

However, there are exceptions to the general rule. Nationals of certain countries are exempt from the above rule and are only required to present passports valid for the duration of their stay in the U.S.

At the time of writing, the citizens of the countries below were required only to present passports valid for the duration of their stay in the U.S. However, the list below is subject to change at any time and therefore we would advise you to seek advice directly from your local U.S Embassy if in doubt.

Further information can be found on the U.S Customs and Border Protection website

Andorra Angola Antigua and Barbuda Antilles Argentina Armenia Aruba
Australia Austria Bahamas,

The

Barbados Belgium Belize Bermuda
Bolivia Bosnia-Herzegovina Brazil Bulgaria Burma Canada Chile
Colombia Costa Rica

 

Cote d’Ivoire

 

Croatia

 

Cyprus

 

Czech Republic

 

Denmark

 

Dominica

 

Dominican Republic Egypt

 

El Salvador

 

Estonia Ethiopia

 

 

Fiji
Guatemala

 

 

Guinea Guyana

 

Haiti

 

Hong Kong

 

Hungary

 

Iceland
India Indonesia

 

Ireland

 

Israel

 

Italy

 

Jamaica

 

Japan
Latvia

 

Lebanon

 

Libya Liechtenstein

 

Lithuania

 

Luxembourg

 

Macau
Macedonia

 

Madagascar

 

Maldives

 

Malaysia

 

Malta

 

Mauritania

 

Mauritius

 

Mexico

 

Monaco

 

Mongolia Montenegro

 

Mozambique

 

Nepal

 

Netherlands

 

New Zealand

 

Nicaragua (for all passports)

 

Nigeria

 

Norway

 

Pakistan Palau

 

Panama

 

Papua New Guinea

 

Paraguay

 

Peru

 

Philippines

 

Poland

 

Portugal

 

Qatar

 

Romania

 

Russia

 

San Marino

 

Saudi Arabia Serbia

 

Seychelles

 

Singapore

 

Slovakia

 

Slovenia

 

South Africa

 

South Korea

 

Spain

 

Sri Lanka St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Lucia St. Vincent and The Grenadines Suriname

 

Sweden

 

Switzerland

 

Taiwan

 

Thailand

 

Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia

 

Turkey

 

Tuvalu

 

Ukraine

 

United Arab Emirates

 

United Kingdom

 

Uruguay

 

Uzbekistan

 

Vatican

(Holy See)

 

Venezuela

 

Zimbabwe    

 

It is important to note that, while a national from one of the above countries may lawfully enter the U.S on a passport valid only for the duration of their stay, in practice U.S Customs and Border Protection Staff may draw an adverse inference if the passport of a visitor to the U.S is due to expire imminently, based on the circumstances of the case.

For example, if an individual enters the U.S for a period of 2 months to visit family in the U.S and his passport expires 2 days after the date upon which he intends to depart the U.S, U.S Customs and Border Protection Staff may legitimately question whether the traveler has a genuine intent to depart the U.S (in the light of his close family in the U.S and the imminent expiration of his passport) and may require sight of his return flight ticket.

In any event, if you are planning a trip to the U.S, it would be wise to consider whether the remaining period of validity on your passport would be adequate in the event you are required to spend additional time in the U.S due to unforeseen circumstances (for example, hospital admission, a missed flight etc.).

  1. Travelling to the U.S under the Visa Waiver Program? Check You Have an E-Passport

As of April 1, 2016, all visitors to the U.S travelling under the Visa Waiver Program must travel on a valid biometric e-passport.

The passport must contain the following features:

  • A machine-readable zone on the biographic page
  • A digital chip containing biometric information about the passport owner

Biometric passports issued by the UK Home Office are recognizable from the small gold symbol at the bottom of the front cover.

If you attempt to travel to the U.S under the Visa Waiver Program without a valid e-passport, you may not be permitted to board your flight to the U.S and will denied entry to the U.S at the border, in any event.

  1. Are You an Adult Taking a Child Under the Age of 18 to the U.S in the Absence of One or Both Parents? Check if You Need to Take Any Evidence to the U.S With You

If a child under the age of 18 is traveling to the U.S with only one parent (or with someone who is not a parent or legal guardian), U.S. Customs and Border Protection strongly recommends that the accompanying adult produce a note from the non-traveling parent (or, in the case of a child traveling without his/her parents, a note signed by both parents) stating “I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter. He/She/They has/have my/our permission to do so”. Further, U.S Customs and Border Protection advise that the note is notarized, if possible.

If there is no second parent with legal claim to the child (for example, due to the death of the other parent or a Court awarding the parent in question sole custody of the child) it would be advisable to take evidence of this fact to the U.S, in the form of the death certificate of the deceased parent, a copy of the Court judgment awarding sole custody of the child to the traveling parent, the child’s birth certificate containing only the traveling parent’s name etc.

The U.S introduced these evidential requirements, in order to safeguard against the risk of child abduction and trafficking. If an adult taking a child to the U.S is asked by U.S Customs and Border Protection Staff to produce this evidence and he/she is unable to do so, there is a risk he/she may be detained at the U.S border, until the circumstances of the child traveling without both parents can be fully assessed.

At Davies Legal, we offer a wealth of expertise in all areas of U.S immigration law. We offer a comprehensive and diligent service, at a competitive fixed fee, and provide an assurance that your case will only ever be dealt with by an experienced U.S immigration attorney. Call now for advice on your case and for a free, no obligation quote.

Published: 27th April 2017