Thursday, July 6, 2017

Suggestions for passing Border Control and Customs

O'Hare airport - Alex Zonis

USk Chicago welcomes all our guests to our city for the 8th International Urban Sketchers Symposium.

Given the level of stress about passing the Border Control on arrival, we collected information from official websites and suggestions from our friends in legal profession. We also included some observations from personal travel experiences.

Disclaimer: We are sketchers and not lawyers. The suggestions we share with you are our understanding. They are not legal or official recommendations. We hope that our international guests will find them helpful, but they are not a guarantee.

During an interview with a Border Control officer, please keep these in mind.
  1. Emphasize your trip is a visit
  2. State that the purpose of your visit is to participate in Urban Sketchers Symposium
  3. State period of time you plan to stay in United States
  4. Have a receipt of payment for the Symposium
  5. Have proof of a return ticket
  6. Have hotel reservation info or info about where and with whom you are staying  
  7. Have a proof of a job back home, if it applies to you. A letterhead with company name stating your return date to work, if possible.
  8. State that you have family back at home, if it applies to you
  9. If traveling to additional destinations before or after the Symposium, have a copy of your itinerary
  10. If asked about your health, answer that you are generally healthy
  11. The Border Control officer may ask you to unlock your phone and/or give access to your laptop. Allow the officer access to your device. If you have private or sensitive data on your device, make a backup copy of your drive at home and delete this data from the device. You can restore it back at home or download from cloud/network after you passed border processing.
  12. Do not carry questionable items, meats, seeds
During Border Control and Customs process, please be patient and polite, follow all of the directions asked and supply any documents to give the Border Control a clear idea that you are only visiting. Answer all questions truthfully and concisely; long explanations may create more questions. Humor does not work well with border officers, the border entry officers are generally focused on their jobs and are not chatty. Keep in mind: border agents are overworked, underpaid and sometimes stressed because directions they receive can change quickly and unpredictably.

We wish you safe and easy travels and cannot wait to welcome everyone in Chicago!

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