Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Entering US Via Miami – Immigration & Customs

Flight out from Santiago to Miami and the start of my next leg of the journey, United States of America. Sincerely I regret deciding to visit the states a second time. If not for the expensive Visa to the states that made me think twice “I should use this Visa more than Once I thought” I would have skipped the states entirely.

Why am I not surprise that going through immigration and customs in the USA was going to be a bitch. It took me a total of 2 hours just to get out of the airport clearing all the security checks. Bad enough that we all had to queue up waiting long times (nearly 20 minutes) before meeting the immigration officer, he then proceed to scrutinized everything and eventually ask me to stand aside for another officer to pick me up and usher me to a back room.
Oh shit now I am in trouble. Into the small corridor and a small door which opens to another room that looks like a separate immigration office. My passport was passed around and after waiting about 5 minutes I was called up to the counter to be question again by a different officer. More drilling questions on where I went, how long I was going to stay, if I have a flight ticket out of USA, if I knew exactly where I would be going and where I would be staying, am I employed, how much money I have, how in hell did I afford this trip … zzz … I fumble a few of the questions for I really did not finalized my travel plans in USA but upon producing the RTW ticket I could see the officer relax a little as if I have finally given her a reason to let me through.

So much waiting at the counter while she typed in every single detail of information into the computer. I decided to test the waters and asked her if it was because I was travelling alone that they all got really paranoid. She nicely spat me with a question.
Do you know how many single travellers come through each day?

End of my playing with fire and just kept quiet my eyes following her every action and hope went up when I saw the hand reached for the stamp. Hope it’s an entry stamp and not a rejection one. If you pass the scrutiny like I did; they generously gave me 6 months tourist entry visa although I only needed a month. Welcome to the States ….

I though the hard part was done and moved on to collect my bag which was the few last bags lying on the conveyor belt. Inspected the bag and all was good and reshuffle my stuff before heading towards the customs.
The nice chap immediately directed me to the full body search section after two questions. I must look more suspicious than I thought ….

The full search section which I groaned for I saw peoples bag in front of me totally striped open and searched by hand. A suitcase could be packed back quite easily and fast but a backpack was going to be a pain in the ass. When my turn came thou the officer gestured me to hold on to my bag first while he began the process of grilling me with the same set of questions from the 3 officers before plus now a bunch load of customs questions such as how much money you are carrying and if you have any food or illegal stuff.
Show me the money he said …. For I could not remember exactly how much I had on me but I knew I was below the limit. Opening my first hiding place where all the loose change currency money was stashed …. He waves me to stop …. Genuine backpacker …. At lease this officer had some sense …

When he was finally satisfied he then asked for the backpack and I knew I could not avoid the repacking. Just before I opened it the officer decided to chuck it into the scanner machine instead giving me some comfort. All good and I was done with immigration and customs. A nice 2 hours in the airport. If I were to have a connecting flight, I would have definitely missed it.
For a moment I miss the efficiency of 3rd world country such as back home.


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