Sunday, October 17, 2010

Day 1: My Landing Experience

Here's an excerpt from a letter I sent to my friend about my landing experience.


Ok, here are some things to remember when you land.  When  you go down the escalator from the arrival area to enter immigration area, there are signs pointing to immigrants.  You will go through a special corridor on the right side.  Don’t worry because there is a greeter there who will keep announcing “New immigrants, this way.”   Very organized.

When you enter the special immigration area where you will be interviewed, you will first see the queue entrance where people fall in line.  Don’t go there right away.  If you look behind the line there is a counter on the left side.  That’s the first step.  It is the immigration welcome desk.  They will give you some pamphlets and do orientation that you probably already know.  When I was there they were giving out numbers and taping it to the outside of the passport.  There are chairs there, so you can just have your kids sit down with your carry-on luggage while you get oriented.  After that counter, they will tell you to get in line.  

When you are in line, take out your PASSPORTS, your CPRs and the CUSTOMS DECLARATION FORM that they gave you on the plane.  (For the customs declaration form, there is a portion that says detach here – Don’t detach it. Basta keep the entire form as-is.  The girl beside me detached hers and the officer asked her why she did that.  In my mind, I was like, “The form said detach here.” Although, in fairness, the instructions did not state to detach.  These guys are very exact.).  

Also have ready the print out of the GOODS TO FOLLOW and GOODS WITH ME lists that you prepared.  You need 2 sets of that.  They didn’t want my goods with me list, but you might as well have it ready just in case. 

When I was in line, because the line was so long (took me 1.5 hrs because there were so many people in line), I put my documents back in my envelope.  So, when I was called to the counter I didn’t have them out.  The officer told me,  “You know that you’re supposed to have your documents ready when you get to the counter.  You should have done that while you were in line.”  But, it wasn’t really negative.  Other than that, the questions are very very simple:
Why are you here?
What is your job category?
What is your occupation?  
Have you ever been convicted of a crime? Refused entry?
Are you bringing over 10k w/ you? Yes (GIVE THE EXACT AMOUNT).  I bought something on the plane and I was asked to count my money.  Good thing I knew exactly how much I spent of my funds so I just subtracted, and I didn’t need to count.
After that, the officer told me to sit down while my papers were prepared for signature.
Then, the officer gives you some reminders about what to do when your goods come in.
After that the officer attaches your CPR to your passport and you are done.

When you exit, you get your bags, unless either one of you has already been asked to do so by the ground staff.  In my case, because I was pretty much at the end of the line for immigrant arrivals on my flight, my bags were the only ones left, so they asked me to go out; but, because I was still in line, they had a porter get my bags from the conveyor belt and wait for me to finish.  Not bad!


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