When travelling to the United States whether on business, for pleasure, to attend a convention or to study, the first point of entry will be passing through immigration and customs.
Travelling from any country, a visitor is asked a series of questions which may seem bothersome and even pointless, but the purpose is the overall safety of all the passengers. Did you pack your own suitcase, or did someone help you?
What is the purpose of your travel?
What devices are you bringing?
How long do you intend to stay in this country?
As long as your passport is in order and your ticket under the same name, there are no further checks until you enter the first destination in the U.S.
The tourist visa or ESTA for countries with special agreements with the United States, Spain is one of these, can be obtained in a matter of minutes online, for approximately $14.00. If your passport, other ID and round trip airline ticket are in order, and depending on the airline you may be asked how much money you are carrying – nowadays most people just use their credit cards. If you are planning on staying just a few days, the maximum cash permitted is $10,000.
All non U.S. residents will be asked to fill out two forms before landing and the flight attendants will pass them around. These are also available at many airline counters. A second form which must be filled out by all passengers whether foreign or U.S. residents is a Customs requirement. The latter details the amount of money that you are bringing, the cost for gifts or purchases and what products you are bringing into the United States.
Customs and Immigration have very strict guidelines. To pass through immigration, there are two lines, one for American citizens and the others for everyone else, whether you are a Resident or a visitor. Once your passport is stamped you then proceed to collect your luggage from the assigned ramp, depending on your flight and airline.
You may be asked if you have been to a farm and if you are bringing any herbs or food products. There are certain products that are absolutely forbidden such as inflammable or corrosive liquids, firearms and any meat products such as sausages even though they may be vacuum-packed. A word of advice would be not to bring food products of any kind. Alcoholic beverages also are limited per passenger.
If a Customs official discovers something in your luggage that you were supposed to declare, you can be fined, have the product confiscated and in the worst cases be arrested. Generally the process of going through customs does not take too long, in spite of the long lines. The agents are very efficient and if you are coming as a tourist, the questions are generally short and simple to answer. Many of them can speak to you in Spanish, otherwise just answer in English to the best of your ability.
Speaking with an experienced and skilled immigration attorney is the first step when dealing with any immigration issue.
The State Bar of Texas website can verify if an individual is licensed to practice law by the State of Texas. Our attorneys are fluent in English, Spanish, French, and Italian, Portuguese .
An experienced attorney authorized to practice immigration law in Dallas, throughout Texas, can assure that your case moves forward as quickly as possible and is handled correctly.