Law Offices of Chris M. Ingram

American Dream – Entering the US With Your Visa/Final Thoughts

Entering the US With Your Visa

So you’ve finally got your visa and now you’re about to board the plane bound for America. If you’ve never been to the US before there are a few paperwork formalities to be completed.

On the plane you will be required to complete a customs form, the form itself is quite self-explanatory. The second form you will be required to complete is the I94 Departure Record. This form must be submitted to the immigration officer. The immigration officer is the final inspection you will have to undergo before you will be permitted to officially enter the US. The inspector will check your visa and swipe your passport strip to check for any irregularities. Irregularities will include a previous overstay on your last visit or even a visit you made several years ago. If you have any unpaid traffic violations etc these will be picked up.

To be honest it’s not known, neither are we allowed to know precisely what information is held on the immigration database, but if any irregularities are flagged you will of course be asked about it. Also male travelers entering the country on their own will face particular close inspection. Even if you have a valid visa the immigration officer can still deny you entry into the US for any reason he or she deems appropriate. Entering the US on a valid visa should not be regarded as a foregone conclusion that your actual entry into the US would be trouble free.

For visa entrants into the US the immigration officer will finger print you and eye scan you for their records. Then your I-94 card will be stamped and stapled into your passport. Your departure record is your official notification that you must leave the US or renew your visa before the stamped date. This date can override your visa expiry date. If this happens you should be able to extend your I-94 at a later date within the US. Your immigration officer will advise you accordingly.

Once the immigration has approved your stay in the US you will be free to collect your luggage. You will then be required to turn in your Customs card to the Customs officer before leaving the building.

The customs form will ask various questions including questions as to whether you have brought in any fresh food or plants of any kind. Also, if you are bringing any gifts or other items that you intend to leave in the US after you stay has ended. If these items exceed $1,000.00 you could be subject to customs and excise duties.

If all goes well you will be free to enter the US and begin your American dream.

Final Thoughts

I hope you have found reading this real guide very informative. This guide has largely been written due to the desire to help avoid the many issues I faced with my family when we first decided to settle in the USA. So many guides paint either a rosy picture of America or fail to address the every-day practical issues that people wishing to settle in the US will face. I guess this is largely due to the fact that not only an attorney has written this guide but also, as a fellow immigrant. The fusion of these perspectives creates a unique view of the realities of immigration.

Your thoughts, comments and insights on this guide would be very helpful for future editions of this guide. Please email by visiting our website at

If having read this guide you would like a personal immigration consultation, then please visit us at our website and select the consultation button. I would be very happy to hear from you.

May I take this opportunity to wish you the very best in your quest for the American Dream.

Chris M. Ingram, LL.M., ESQ Attorney at Law