Summer is always a busy season for travelers. If you’re traveling on a visa, you may already know to expect more delays and give yourself plenty of time.
This year, though, is likely to be even worse than normal due to the recent executive orders. Already, we are seeing more background checks, more delays in getting through the airport, and more complaints about consulates.
With this in mind, here a few tips to make the process go as smoothly as possible when traveling on a visa.
Learn entry and exit requirements.
While many countries allow foreign visitors to enter and stay for up to 90 days without a visa, some countries require visitors to have obtained a pre-arrival visa.
The Department of State’s website offers country-specific information for every nation, including travel warnings, security information and entry/exit requirements.
If your trip will require additional entry requirements, be sure to start the process well before purchasing your ticket!
Know customs rules and restrictions
Before departing, learn about the rules and restrictions of your foreign destination as well as those of the United States. Many countries have regulations about the types and quantities of items you are allowed to bring with you, such as food, medications, and pets.
The United States also has tight regulations on the items you can bring home. Before you buy that souvenir, check to ensure that it is allowed into the United States. For example, things made from almost all ivory, coral, and some furs and leathers are strictly prohibited.
Bring your travel and identification documents.
Depending on your status, where you’re going, the requirements of the airport, and so on, there are several different types of travel documents you may need to bring with you. Some of these are not legally required, but in our current climate, you cannot be too prepared.
Typically, it is wise to have your current driver’s license or foreign national ID card, passport, green card (if you have one), advanced parole approval (if you are not a legal permanent resident of the United States), or current visa stamp.
Get there early.
Even if you follow the rules to a “t,” there are many reasons you might face a delay – from having to undergo additional inspections to the simple fact that the airport itself is busy due to the season.
How can you account for this? By arriving at the airport at least an hour earlier than you have in the past. Obviously, there are no guarantees, but this provides you with more of a buffer to deal with unforeseen circumstances.
The bottom line: be prepared and make a plan so you can deal with whatever comes your way.