Lost passport and US immigration secondary screeningBack to Forum
Anonymous29 Mar 2011
I recently lost my passport abroad, and had it replaced after coming home on an emergency passport.
Arriving into the United States this week on my new passport, I was pulled aside and forced to go through ‘secondary screening’ immigration, which involved a lengthy wait and a separate interview in an immigration office at the airport. I was told by the immigration official that as my passport had been lost or stolen, I could expect secondary screening every time I visited the US, which I do frequently.
Has anybody had a similar experience, and should I genuinely expect this palaver to continue every time I go into the United States?29 Mar 2011
Hi, Yes – every time you go, and the time taken to go through the secondary process doesnt get any shorter – you should lso be mindfull of allowing extra time if connecting, especially at hubs like Miami & LAX where the amount of people waiting to be interviewed for a second time can be a lot – I once missed a connection in MIA due to the length of time waiting to be processed (2 hours) – and no amount of reasoning would get me ahead in the queue for processing.31 Mar 2011
I had one at Boston. flying with 3 colleagues we were at the gate and there was a delay. I had to go for a leak, back then they also had security at the gates (might still do)
anyway I left my bag with my colleagues, did what I had to do. got back to security. Same guy who had alreday frisked me and interviewed me. Asked me where my bag was, I pointed to my friends and said there. With that he starts to read the riot act about leaving bags unattended and said he must inspect the bag. no amount of reasoning and explianing that I just went for a pee, and he said it was ok, was going to deviate from another “interview” furher more my friends were not allowed to touch the bag and bring it for inspection. another TSA official had to come and pick it up (it was less than 10 feet away from the desk).
at least i didnt miss my flight, unlike the poor woman behind me who was expressing with emotion teh fact that her gate was closing. The TSA guy deliberatly held her, she missed it31 Mar 2011
How about my wife bending over to put her shoes on after they where X Ray. a female TSA official put her hand up into the cheeks of my wife bottom. It took 6 months of complaining to the TSA and only after the American Embassy TSA office in London got involved, did they agreed it should not have happend, and the person was now being dismmosed. The TSA H Q in the USA would never even answer any letter sent to them.31 Mar 2011
Because of preferential hiring, a large proportion of TSA staff are ex-US military enlistees.
Need we say more?
To be fair, however, mounting passenger complaints are beginning to bring the same salutory results as improved the once indifferent demeanour of the Immigration agents.
I usually get a smile and a “Welcome” nowadays.
Just came into DFW’s Terminal C from SCL. Swift, efficient, friendly.
Thought I was in SIN for a moment, until I went to the Admiral’s Club.2 Apr 2011
Sorry to hear about certain negative experiences. US resident and green card holder since quarter century, departing and returning from/to US (15+ airports) probably 500 times, honestly I can’t remember a time when not treated nicely or very nicely by security, immigration and customs, probably treveled under lucky stars.
A couple of funny anecdotes about immigration:
(1) 23 pieces of checked luggage, one traveler
When my father passed away 15 years ago in Vienna, my brother and I eventually cleaned out his home. Furniture and other large items that we decided would stay with me I sent by container. Other things I decided to take with me back to the US CA; among these also two carpets, at least 2 x 4 meters per piece. Before doing so, I asked a friend who worked with the airline I flew whether he would be so nice and put a remark into my PNR that I may check in more than the two pieces of luggage because of the circumstances. I arrived at airport with 23 pieces; rental car, brothers car and couple of taxis. We decided whatever the airline would let me check in, I would, with the remainder taken back by my brother and to be added to the container. To my surprise, the check-in lady accepted ALL 23 pieces!
At arrival at LAX, all 23 pieces arrived including the two carpets and a a few boxes that were oddly shaped, at the odd luggage container. I remember I needed probably 7 or 8 luggage cart. Explained to a immigrations officer my issue; all immigration concerned were extremely helpful. Actually allowed me to go out with a couple of carts, then return and return again for the other carts. To my surprise they did not check me at all (before 911). Got porters to help rolling the arts uphill and to wait for a fee until my return with an ex-large rental van!
(2) From Vienna to LAX w/o passport
In Vienna upon walking through passport control I realized my passport was gone (when my brother cleaned his car a week later he found it between the seats). I showed the officer my green card; he let me pass and said “no problem for me, good luck wherever you go”
Traveling on OS to LHR; transfer to good old TW. Transfer desk person gave us boarding passes without asking me for passport (my wife holds US passport, she stood at the counter and talked to the person nicely, waving her passport) while I sweated it out behind her
Arrival in LAX. Going through immigration, telling the officer I traveled without passport but have green card. He says “welcome back, no problem, I hope you can find your passport or get a new one soon”. Nothing else. Of course also this incident was before 911. Since then I always have been traveling with passport.3 Apr 2011
The good old days! Now is a little different and less lax.
But I found the US Immigration officiers are NICER and FRIENDLIER towards foreigners since 911 than their UK counterparts.3 Apr 2011
I remember a trip to Manila a few years back. Had my passport checked at the boarding gate so I know I had it on the plane – but I didn’t when I got off. Wasn’t allowed back on the plane to find it, immigration wouldn’t talk to me (I didn’t exist as I didn’t have a passport). Sweating buckets, I called the British Embassy’s emergency number – I have never encountered such a helpful government official in my life. He called a friend in Immigration who arranged for me to be interviewed. Thank God one of my appointments was the next day with the number 2 in the Finance Ministry and,. as I had taken an earlier flight (on a whim) the Ministry was still open so they were able to confirm I had the appointment. Immigration eventually agreed to let me in (having taken my Hong Kong ID card as some sort of surety) on the undertaking I would get a new passport before leaving. Poor old CX were fined for bringing in an undocumented passenger but were also incredibly helpful. I went to my hotel, popped out to get a couple of passport photos, the Embassy opened early the following morning especially so I could fill in the forms before my first meeting at 9. By the time I got back to the hotel at 5.30 that day, the Embassy had produced a replacement passport, CX had picked it up, taken it to Immigration, had the entry stamp put in, and delivered it back to my hotel. Absolutely incredible all round.
The original was handed in months later – I suspect it got lost in the bowels of the aircraft seat and was found during an overhaul.
Interesting lesson I learned later though – the Consulate in HK informed me that if I went with my new passport to the Consulate, accepted the return of my old passport and then surrendered it back to them, they would delete the observation in my new passport that it was a replacement. So, Daytripper, if yours does ever turn up, it may be worth doing the same thing.8 Apr 2011
At the end of February 2007, I had to make an urgent visit to see my father in Miami, who whilst on holiday out there, had suffered massive respiratory problems (and later died of heart failure).
I booked Virgin Atlantic out to MIA, from LHR, arrived with just hand luggage and proceeded to immigration. I was stopped, questioned and lead away by an agent (who pointedly showed me that he had a gun), but never explained what I had done, to a room full of people awaiting secondary screening. I was there six hours and received no help whatsoever, even though I explained my predicament and need to get to the hospital ASAP.
The agents were rude, unhelpful and had no interest in any individual. Not having been through secondary screening previously, I was amazed at the age differences in people waiting. The screening has no age constraints and I saw the young, old, defenceless and the unusual.
Whilst I appreciate the need for immigration to use caution, it’s their attitude that stinks. Eventually I got seen, and within a few minutes was told to be on my way. I enquired as to what the problem may be and could I help resolve it for future issues. I was told quite bluntly, that it was none of my concern and that I was lucky to get in.
Being a travel agent, I was aware that booking last minute, travelling with hand luggage and being single, would all go against me, but I was not going for a holiday. I even had the hospital fax me over a letter explaining the reasons why i had to get over there ASAP, but when I produced it, it was ripped up in front of me, and never read.
I made a formal complaint to the US Embassy in London, upon my return, but never had any reply. I then decided to write to my MP (Vince Cable), who kindly took up the matter. He received a curt response telling him to mind his own business and that it was none of his concern.
I will never return to the USA as a matter of principal at the way the Department of Homeland Security treated me, which is a pity as i have some wonderful friends the States, but I have no intention of being humiliated in this way in future.
Having been to many countries worldwide, including the likes of Canada, Dubai, Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and many others, I have always been treated courteously and likewise I have always been polite and answered all questions with respect (as I did in the USA).
The USA has much to learn, and although it is of little concern to others, I am just glad I am not the only one this happens to in one form or another.
Regards to you all, Paul9 Apr 2011
If I have already shared this with the forum my apologies for repetition:
In an immigration Q at Newark a year or so back, I noticed a confrontation at the next booth between a passenger and an immigration officer.
Immigration officer – “Sir, please put place your left hand on the pad”
Passenger – “I have”
Immigration officer – “Sir, please place all your fingers on the pad”
Passenger – “I have”
Immigration officer – “Sir, I will not ask you again, please place all fingers of your left hand on the pad, we are required to take your finger prints”
Passenger – “I know Officer and I have done as you have requested”
Immigration Officer – “please place your hand more firmly”
……….at which stage the passenger raised his hand to show the only fingers on his left hand were his thumb and middle finger. (Which was pointed straight up) – Priceless!!!9 Apr 2011