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AlcantarA

Experiences traveling to the USA during COVID-19 from a banned country?

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Hey guys!

 

I am relatively new to this website. I have been using it for quite a while and it has helped to answer so many of my questions but I am in a predicament and I was wondering if anyone could share their experiences with me.

 

I (UK citizen) married my spouse (US citizen) in 2018. We filed our I130 March of this year. I last saw my husband in December as I went to go and spend time with him and his family for Christmas, it was a 2 week trip (last week of December and first week of January). I have not been to visit him since, due to the restrictions and travel bans placed on both the UK and the USA as a result of COVID-19. I miss my husband terribly and want to see him again as soon as I can. I intended to visit him during June but my flights were cancelled.

 

I have now contacted the CBP twice who have told me that despite flying from the UK (we are part of the Schengen area ban), I can visit the USA providing I have copies of my marriage certificate and my husbands passport however the decision at the POE is made entirely by the CBP officers. I was also told that flying to the USA on an ESTA whilst I have an i130 processing is not a good idea as it indicates that I am trying to move to the USA illegally. I just want to point out that, obviously, I would not jeopardize the I130 process and I would NOT move illegally. I am also due to start a Masters course in the UK in clinical psychology this coming September. I would like to see my husband for a 2-week trip in September. 

 

So I have a few questions, (a) My husband does not have a passport so would a birth certificate be a good alternative? (b) Has anyone travelled directly from the UK and could you please share your experiences? (c) Is it a good idea to travel on an ETSA? (d) What type of proof should I take to show the CBP officers that I will be returning back to the UK besides my round trip tickets?

 

Any other advice would be massively appreciated! Thank you! :) 

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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Poland
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Re. Travelling while i130 pending

My understanding is that you can travel to the US while pending i130 (actually, I did back in November '19) - I was flying from Dublin so precleared there - no questions asked. But now they might be more strict. Have a look at this article: https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/when-can-i-visit-my-spouse-in-the-united-states/.

Any documents proving your ties to the UK like a letter from employer, proof you study there (or about to start), etc - something to show you are planning to come back. I was never asked about it but had it ready. 

 

Re. Travelling to the US during Covid-19.

Can't answer on this one but again, I think you should be fine. My wife just travelled from the US to Poland - she had to show our marriage cert, my ID (passport) and proof of address in Poland (to the airline staff, not at the border). Somewhere on this forum I read that you might also need a pre-approval from the US embassy, but this could've been only for banned countries. 

 

Hope this gives you some point of reference. Best of luck! 

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4 hours ago, DamianB said:

Re. Travelling while i130 pending

My understanding is that you can travel to the US while pending i130 (actually, I did back in November '19) - I was flying from Dublin so precleared there - no questions asked. But now they might be more strict. Have a look at this article: https://www.boundless.com/immigration-resources/when-can-i-visit-my-spouse-in-the-united-states/.

Any documents proving your ties to the UK like a letter from employer, proof you study there (or about to start), etc - something to show you are planning to come back. I was never asked about it but had it ready. 

 

Re. Travelling to the US during Covid-19.

Can't answer on this one but again, I think you should be fine. My wife just travelled from the US to Poland - she had to show our marriage cert, my ID (passport) and proof of address in Poland (to the airline staff, not at the border). Somewhere on this forum I read that you might also need a pre-approval from the US embassy, but this could've been only for banned countries. 

 

Hope this gives you some point of reference. Best of luck! 

Hello there!

 

First of all, thank you so much for the boundless article! It is exactly the information that I am looking for in terms of how to prepare a portfolio on what proof I can provide to either the airline staff or CBP officers of my return to the UK. 

 

I am just very worried about being turned away at POE, the tickets are not cheap at the moment (I will be flying from Manchester to Los Angeles LAX). My husband does not have his passport either so I am hoping his birth certificate will be okay. I will definitely look into that pre-approval though so thank you very much for answering I really appreciate it! :)

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Hiya, I have flown fine whilst on an ESTA and with a pending spousal visa from the UK to US. I showed my marriage certificate and a copy of my husband's passport. No concerns. Just had to quarantine on my return. As long as you don't intend to overstay your Visa it's all good.

 

I think it's best to check in, in person as ESTAs can sometimes get cancelled online. We can travel over the ban as we meet the exemptions requirements. 

 

Here is the highlighted post that's shows people's experiences and thoughts:

 

 

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1 hour ago, Xyrstine said:

Hiya, I have flown fine whilst on an ESTA and with a pending spousal visa from the UK to US. I showed my marriage certificate and a copy of my husband's passport. No concerns. Just had to quarantine on my return. As long as you don't intend to overstay your Visa it's all good.

 

I think it's best to check in, in person as ESTAs can sometimes get cancelled online. We can travel over the ban as we meet the exemptions requirements. 

 

Here is the highlighted post that's shows people's experiences and thoughts:

 

 

Hey there! 

 

It is such a relief to know that you have travelled with (a) a pending spousal visa and (b) during this pandemic.

 

Did you show the original marriage certificate or a copy of it because I do not have the original (it's with my husband) and I am assuming that the airline staff are very thorough when it comes to checking the evidence you have to fly. I am also hoping a birth certificate for my husband will be sufficient as proof that he is a US citizen.

 

Thank you for answering and best of luck with your spousal visa! :)

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2 hours ago, AlcantarA said:

Hey there! 

 

It is such a relief to know that you have travelled with (a) a pending spousal visa and (b) during this pandemic.

 

Did you show the original marriage certificate or a copy of it because I do not have the original (it's with my husband) and I am assuming that the airline staff are very thorough when it comes to checking the evidence you have to fly. I am also hoping a birth certificate for my husband will be sufficient as proof that he is a US citizen.

 

Thank you for answering and best of luck with your spousal visa! :)

 

I think as long as it's a certified copy then that should be fine. I made sure I had the original copy as my husband could easily ask for another copy from his local registry office. 

 

And I assume that the birth certificate should be fine but I am not 100% sure. The person who checked my documents made a call to verify my husband's passport number but I don't know if they are still being this thorough. I would assume birth certificate would be enough proof. Maybe their driving licence so a photo ID might also be helpful? I know not all US citizens have passports.

 

The airline called me before travel to ask about my "status" to ensure I was eligible to fly which I was. Before check in, I had someone from Homeland security check my documents, otherwise no issues from then on regarding eligibility to fly. They may do a temp check upon entry to the States but nothing more than that for me personally. Some states require mandatory quarantine as well.

Edited by Xyrstine

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On 8/4/2020 at 9:51 PM, Xyrstine said:

 

I think as long as it's a certified copy then that should be fine. I made sure I had the original copy as my husband could easily ask for another copy from his local registry office. 

 

And I assume that the birth certificate should be fine but I am not 100% sure. The person who checked my documents made a call to verify my husband's passport number but I don't know if they are still being this thorough. I would assume birth certificate would be enough proof. Maybe their driving licence so a photo ID might also be helpful? I know not all US citizens have passports.

 

The airline called me before travel to ask about my "status" to ensure I was eligible to fly which I was. Before check in, I had someone from Homeland security check my documents, otherwise no issues from then on regarding eligibility to fly. They may do a temp check upon entry to the States but nothing more than that for me personally. Some states require mandatory quarantine as well.

Thank you for this! I was told that the USA is one country which requires you to have COVID testing before you fly. It is just so difficult to know what to do when there is so much conflicting information on the internet. Your experience has made me feel so much better about the whole thing.

 

Really appreciate your responses! :)

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