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Hello! I have a question perhaps someone can assist me with this.
I have my waiver and can now travel to the USA. Question is - I don’t want to always let everyone I am travelling know. It’s no one’s business but mine and the USA governments.
Do they ask you questions about your waiver at the border crossing?
Through some 16 years, and counting, of entering the US by way of land and airports with a waiver, I have learned to expect the unexpected.
Travelling alone, with family, or others who already "know", I will outright mention I have a waiver as I present both passport and waiver.
When I travel with others, I hand my passport and waiver then leave it to the agent to ask me anything further. On some instances they simply read the waiver, looked at their screens, made their entries, and wished everyone a good trip. On other occasions, they have said to likes of, "oh, you have a waiver". And left it at that. However, I do recall one time when an agent grilled me about my past in detail and as to why I required a waiver. This, while my colleague uncomfortably listened to the dialogue between the agent and I.
Regarding crossing with your children. More than once, I have been told by agents, should I wish I could request to be further screened separately from my children. If you are asked to go inside for screening, everyone in your party must enter the building. My better half and the children wait, while I line up. There have been the odd times when the agent asks for everyone to present themselves at the counter, perhaps to confirm I am indeed travelling with my family.
I will add that on the Form I-194 card that gets stapled into your passport ...almost always, agents have granted me (the max.) 6-month multi entry forms. Crossing by land, agents often let you use it until it expires - saving you a visit "inside" and USD 6.
As these are issued at each agent's discretion, there are the other times. A few times, agents collected still valid I-194's and made me go inside for a new one. The odd time, I was granted shorter validity periods. And one time, I was granted a single same-day stay. All told, that particular cross border trip was only a 30 minute in/out. But, I still had go in, line up, get screened, and paid the 6 bucks with a smile. I should be grateful I was allowed in, but I was going to cross again the following week... and had to obtain another card.
@Lolom Yes, absolutely. ALWAYS hand the waiver (with your passport) to the U.S. Border Guard. I have had some pretty stern lectures about not handing it to them with the passport, even when I was not withholding it, but simply finding it because it dropped onto the floor of the car.
Thanks everyone for the advice.
What I was convicted for sounds so much more serious than what actually happened. It’s not something I would want to discuss and explain to my kids or to colleagues.
I will take a couple solo trips to get comfortable with the process before taking a family trip!
All the best,
@JLB1976 The simple answer to your question is YES, you may be asked by the border guard about the reason for your waiver. This is completely dependent on the border guard you get.
I have been with colleagues and friends when the inevitable question is asked. "What is the waiver for?" I have tried to simply say that I have a criminal record however that is never enough. If they have asked about the waiver, they will want to know the 'reason'. Never details, just the reason.
(Keep in mind this is all while I am at the booth and in my car, and not inside). I have been on a small bus with several people and the border guard did ask me to step off the bus so he could ask me in some relative privacy.
The majority of the time however, I simply cross and answer the normal questions and they do not ask about the reason for the waiver.
Just be prepared and understand that it is completely within the border guard's duty to ask the question if they deem necessary and that you may have to answer in front of other people in the car/vehicle.
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