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Old 30 Sep 2009
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HELP! Refused entry to the USA

Hi all,

As some of you know, we were meant to cross the Canada-USA border yesterday. After a 12-hour exhausting day driving and sitting in border agencies, we were thrown away from the USA, twice!

The main issue seems to be that we don't have a return ticket and we don't have jobs. Now of course, we had to leave our jobs in the first place to have enough time ahead of us to cross the Americas. The return ticket (back to the UK) is also impossible as we don't have a specific location (Chile, Argentina, or before if we get sick?) or date of leaving.

They do not understand what a temporary import of a vehicle is (which we had to do in Canada when we shipped our car from London as a proof that the vehicle would leave the country with us), they do not want to believe we are doing a private expedition for tourism purposes, and are obviously concerned of us staying in the US. They are worried of us being illegal immigrants because we don't have return tickets, nor jobs, and the car is loaded with stuff. They asked us about our bank account details, our money. We told them we had enough savings, but they obviously thought it mean't we would have enough to start a new life in the US.

When we were received entry in the first border, we were so shocked, we didn't see it coming at all. The officer dealing with our case even kindly suggested that we tried a different border (or even come back within a few hours) where somebody perhaps would understand better. To our horror, at the second border, we were horribly treated and threatened. We were shouted at, saying that this was our second warning (was there ever a first one?) and that if we tried this again without proof of empolyment and return tickets (+ financial proofs), they would confiscate the car and deport us back to the UK, and bar us from the US!!! They registered us in the US Justice Dptmt system, asked for our addresses, DOB, parents' addresses and DOB, old jobs' details, fingerprints, photos, ect. I was so shocked I could only cry on my chair, realising that this was over before it had even started; meanwhile, they were entering our details in their database and checking I would not move.

So after all this, we are back at my parents house in Montreal, and our question is: how is it possible that so many other overlanders have done the Americas and not reported this problem, did we miss something in our extensive research?

We have a family wedding in Texas (and John was supposed to meet his sister from the UK there in a few days, and she was bringin extra filters for the car). We have spent nearly a year planning, preparing, saving for this trip. We have quit our jobs and spent money on our car and expedition equipment. We have put so much efforts into realising our dream. I am Canadian and French, my husband is British and Filipino. We have lived and worked together in London UK for our respective governments for the past 5 years, and have spent the last three months in Montreal with my family to kit up the car and prepare for the adventure down south. Obviously, they don't care about this and don't want to know. We had so many documents that they did not even want to see (travel inventory, 1yr tax return form UK, marriage certificate, worlwide travel insurance, inoculations, bank statements, proof of house in the UK. ect). Now, John and the UK registered car only have 6 months in Canada, only 3 left.

Any advice asap would be appreciated because we are now in limbo.
We cannot believe the dream ends here. It would be ridiculous to ship the car to Chile to be told the same thing again on our way up. I will try to contact officials today to get a clear picture.
I hope some of you can help out. This forum has been amazing for us throughout our preps and I'm sure someone out there must know something. Thanks in advance.

John and Isabelle
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Old 30 Sep 2009
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Buy a full price ticket to anywhere out of the US and present it at the border then cancel the ticket once you are in or possibly once you get into Mexico (that's why it needs to be a full price one rather than a no money back cheapy) Hope this works. Ride safe and cheer up.
Mike is riding the twisty road in the sky
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Old 30 Sep 2009
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Hi Cruz,

Sorry to hear about your difficulties. You posted a question to Axel on a similar thread. After they were turned back they made an appointment to go through the visa process and had to wait a week or so. The appointment was last week, and I haven't heard any updates so I assume that they got their visa. You may want make an appointment as soon as you can. If Montreal has a long wait, then perhaps Toronto or Ottawa would be shorter wait. You may want to have your story and supporting details alll worked out before hand. Good luck.
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Old 30 Sep 2009
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Thanks guys.

Unfort., a return ticket is not enough. They need proof of employment (which is not possible obviously as we quit our jobs to make the travelling possible). I have spoken to many people this morning, may have indeed to go down the visa route, but even this is unsure as we have all our details in their system... We can't believe this and are still shocked. Will try to get in touch with Axel.
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Old 30 Sep 2009
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Thanks so much Caminando. It's very kind of you and it helps us not to feel so isolated and keep hoping.

I was on the phone with the US consulate.They understand the situation perfectly but cannot decide for the Homeland Security Dptmt (borders). We have been advised to write to the consulate's non-immigration visa dptmt explaining the whole issue to see what can be done. See if at least a visa would be receivable.

We are also trying to see if someone can sponsor/commission our expedition to prove that we are not staying in the UK. We are willing and happy to write articles in Fr or Eng, or for the matter anything to allow us to pursue, or at least start living the dream. Thanks
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Old 1 Oct 2009
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Just for the record, our local MP will try and see what can be done with the embassy. We are preparing files with our story - if we are more ready and calm to speak to the media. We are waiting to hear from the US consulate and other friends trying to help in and out of the US.

Please let us know if any advice or help. Thanks
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Old 1 Oct 2009
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Looks like your file has been flagged by the USA border guards. Many of the guards are new and have been add by the Homeland Security and may be over there heads when it comes to overland trips. There looking for any thing and any one out of place. And you with UK plate car full of crap is WAYYYYYY out of place.

Some things you may try are

Get 3rd party to help, someone to translate even if gust act like a buffer from you and them.
Rest and smile at the guards you being tired and mad will not help your case.
Get a visa to Mexico this is prof of travil from the USA. Your car dose not do that people from Mexico do it all the time then move here.
You need to show you have money to enter, most places have that Canada and Mexico do.
You may want to get a visa for the USA Visitor Visas .
The USA is still at war something to think about, tread light at the border.
Do not give any info that you do not need to or asked (little late for you) demanding some like a "temporary import of a vehicle" when the USA may not have that is gust going to make you have problems. Vehicle Import: Temporary vehicle import guidelines into the United States

Just because the EU or Canada or the UK has some paper work not all places will. You are not going to the UK or Canada. Laws change funny I know. Just like a US person can not enter Canada or the UK (or most any place) with a hand gun.

Go here and they will help fix it The Embassy of the United States of America - Canada

You think the USA is a pain try some other borders. Some you can not enter with a car at all.

Crazed foreign policies? McCarthyism? From Obama? Seen the same from the UK, Mexico, Canada most every border. Rub someone the wrong way, brake some little law, not having need paperwork, or "pissing about" at the border will get tossed back most places.

Million's of people come to the USA every year and never have a problem you did something that red flag you I think it was not having a visa and driving a UK plate car. Most people that do that get a visa or get a waver you did not your planning is a bit short on this. That will make the border guards job harder and your travil harder as well. But do not give up little leg work will sort this right out.
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Old 1 Oct 2009
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Thanks. Actually John did have a visa waiver with him. We had all the paperwork required.

We have been on the phone for the past two days since being rejected. Very upset to be on the DHS files. Trying to get them cleared as it is a mistake on their part. Working with consulates and embassies now. It happens that agents are stressed and doing simply their jobs; we seemed to fit the bill for them and they are not used to innocent overlanders. So we need to redress our files and get contacts to help us out of this mess and through the US.

It proves to be very difficult but we are still hoping and working hard. Will keep you posted.
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Old 1 Oct 2009
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If we get our story cleared, we can probably re-apply for a visa and I will certainly look into the link you sent on temporary import to the US. This is what we did for Canada when we shipped the car from the UK.
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Old 6 Oct 2009
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Hello John and Isabella,
we hope your things are going well.
Maybe another plan for you: if you can't get a visa, somebody else drives your car down to Mexico and you fly.
Let us know how it went on with you. Did you get an appointment for the visa interview?
See you, Axel

what I wrote in my thread:

Hey folks,
I crossed the borderto the States! I took the border in Lynden, a small one with very friendly officers. For the first time. And it took only half an hour. I got my visa in Vancouver, and after that no problem. But for the visa I needed a lot of documents to show at the Consulate (1. bank account, 2. letter from my ex-employer - they just wrote, that I'm still employed, thanks to them, 3. a letter from my little workshop, I still pay rent for, 4. letters from insurances, I still pay in Germany, 5. a letter of my ownership of my HD, I still have at home)
For long travellers I recommend to apply for a visa. But it needs very long (at an US Consulate in Canada) for an interview appointment. I had to wait for 6 weeks. The visa costs 131 USDollars, but it is for 10 years + 6 US Dollar entry at the border.
But my girlfriend got through, without visa, only with this visa waiver programm, just paid the 6 Dollar at the border and passed with such a green card, which you get at the border, got entry for 3 months, without showing any proof of leaving America.
Now we are going south, it's getting cold now.
Thanks for your support and the offers!
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Old 7 Oct 2009
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Dreams never die....

Cruz, count us among those who send encouragement to you and regret that the border officials of the United States of America have erected a substantial roadblock. All your preparations including your first border attempts, have been motivated by your dream to be with family in Texas and by your planned overland adventure to Mexico, Central and South America. Your dream is on its' way to becoming reality.

Time is only a consideration, of course the remaining 3 month temporary import permit on your vehicle is an important consideration held by Canadian authorities too.

Here is my unsolicited advice. Calm yourself, squint your eyes a little, select a viable route through the maze of officialdom and do what needs to be done to legally enter the States. There are many great ideas toward this end on this thread.

And, please remember time is only a consideration, know that your journey has begun, you are en route to your dream. All that you do to gain legal entry to the States is part of the dream.... enjoy the ride..... it is all about the ride, not the destination.... You can and will make your dream real.

Reminds me of the time Elisa and I and our motorcycles had to wait 3 days in our very wet bush camp, for a mountain road to be cleared after an earthquake in Peru. We had very little food, but plenty of rainwater to drink and to make tea. Eventually, the rocks and boulders were removed, the road more or less repaired, and we moved on. The next night we laughed and then cried when we remembered the beautiful little girl who appeared from no where and gave us some wonderful homemade vegetable soup, that her Mother had made for travelers stranded up on the road. I still cry.

Hug each other and be good to each other along the way. Rain and roadblocks are good sometimes.

Eat, Drink and Be Careful xfiltrate

Last edited by xfiltrate; 7 Oct 2009 at 16:24.
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Old 8 Oct 2009
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Very sorry to read about this.

The idea that follows may or may not be helpful for Cruz but I will throw it out there.

If you are still stuck after a week, try the news media.

Look up U.S. newspapers in the vicinity. Call up the news desk. Explain your situation.

Especially if you have been traveling on a bike through say two dozen countries, and you’re stuck in Canada or Mexico with U.S. entry denied, this is news. It’s colorful and controversial. A motorbike especially in its novelty. Not quite so compelling with four wheels but worth a try. I’m a former newspaper journalist. I’d jump on that story.

If anyone ever does this, prepare in advance for your interview with a news reporter. Jot down your talking points. Anticipate the likely questions. Think in advance what you want to say. Don't be antagonistic or wildly critical. Your objective is to gain sympathy, not bash the U.S. government.

The result is likely to be a story with photo at least on the front page of the local section.

Even with the Web and abundance of digital data, nothing packs quite the punch of a news story in hard-copy print. And let’s face it, denying entry to a proven adventure traveler is just embarrassing.

From there an additional tactic could be to engage a HUBB member in the local community to bring the article to the attention of U.S. congressional reps in the area.

Just some thoughts. FWIW. Good luck.
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Old 9 Oct 2009
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Thanks for that dmitrij paint over 307 million people with that brush.
Best Post Ever!
Real help that.

How bout telling them to try to get new passport or open a dialog with the USA State Department or anything. But no you start name calling and putting down an entire people. Many came from all over the world. Where are the mods on that one?

If you have problems getting in to the USA there is help online and from USA State Department. There are 56million people that come to the USA every year to visit and get in. But yes some times thing can happen. You can get on ESTA https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/esta.h...8-A7C88FB292C1
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Old 9 Oct 2009
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IMHO, this thread has the potential to escalate into a flame war or US bashing session. Neither is helpful.

Please give sensible suggestions if you have any. I believe Cruz and others would appreciate it if everyone stayed on topic. Feel free to go offline to continue your personal dialogue.

PS. If you have a problem with a post, press the "report post button"
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Old 10 Oct 2009
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there you go

the USA is nice ,all the people are nice ,good luck with entry ,but i think once they ping you they ping you and big time ,let us know how you get on
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