Sunday, 4 September 2011

Missing Paperwork

or,

How We Nearly Didn't Make It To America!

I've been saving this story for when we got back. I think I feared that if 'the authorities' in America came across my blog they might track us down and deport us - this is why.....

When we got our visas for our trip, there was a particular form we needed that the Huntington sent over for us. Unfortunately, we hadn't realised that we were supposed to have those forms with us in order to travel! We'd assumed that they were only needed for the visa applications, and since we couldn't have got the visas without them the existence of the visas proved that we had the forms....

But no. When we got to Heathrow to check in, we were asked for these forms along with our visas. When we said we didn't have them, our passports were taken from us while the check-in staff consulted with each other and then started making phone calls. As you can imagine, this was a rather sticky time for us! It took (a very long) 10 minutes for the staff to eventually get confirmation from immigration that we would, after all, be able to travel that day.

And so we set off, flying for 9 1/2 hours across the Atlantic to Atlanta. On arrival we had to present various pieces of paperwork to the immigration officer, and he of course asked to see these pesky forms. When we explained that we didn't have them, but that we'd been told at Heathrow that we'd be OK to travel, he said in scandalised tones 'Who told you that?' and seemed a bit unsure what to do with us. He did in the end put everything through on the computer, but he clearly wasn't happy, and told us at the end that he'd only let us into the country because we had children with us. He also warned us not to get pulled over by the police while driving as they'd need to see these forms and it could cause all kinds of difficulties!

When The Doctor got to the Huntington and told them of our experiences, they were very surprised we'd been allowed in the country at all, as they knew of several cases where people had been sent straight back to England because they hadn't brought that particular form with them.....

So I guess we have to be very grateful to The Children that we managed to get into America at all! Gosh, it doesn't bear thinking about!

(I should add that when we closely re-read the letter from the Huntington, we did eventually find a reference to these forms on a list of items we should bring with us. However, we do feel that it should have been made clearer at some point, probably when the visas were issued - though we do take responsibility ourselves for not having checked carefully enough, too.)

This post was brought to you by Sian's Storytelling Sunday

25 comments:

debs14 said...

Oh my goodness, you must have been very anxious at the airports. I knew taking those children along with you was a good idea ;-)

Ruth said...

Always a nightmare at US Customs. First time I went, the airline said that my cousin (the star of my story today) and I could 'share' a Visa-Waiver form, as we were related. How wrong they were ... cue lots of smileing nicely and terribly-British-accents and "I'm a member of HM Forces" ...

Cheri said...

customs can be so ridiculous! They could have called me... I would have vouched for you! ;)

Sian said...

Ooh, that reminds me of the time we travelled from Dublin via Shannon to the States. The plane touches down in Shannon for an hour and we got off and, er, left our passports on the plane! Thank goodness we talked them into letting us back on again.

And I don't blame you for being wary of those customs officials - I wouldn't put it past them to be reading blogs to catch people out lol

Thanks for the story Mel

Missus Wookie said...

:phew: Glad you were allowed out AND back in!

scrappyjacky said...

Thank goodness you met a customs official on one of his good days!!

K said...

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thank goodness they were lenient on you.

Becky said...

Oh gosh, you were lucky! Thanks for sharing your story :)

Alana said...

What a worry for you. Have you told the children you are indebted to them....yes I suppose it would be best not to or you would never let it lie.

Alison said...

OMGosh...it would have been bad enough being questioned about it this end, but you were indeed very lucky to have got a lenient US customs officer-they can be very scary!!
Alison xx

Wanda said...

You've reminded me to check, check, and check again all the documents that are needed these days. I'm glad it worked out for you!

Ladkyis said...

I am told that all US immigration officers have a sense of humor by pass operation before they can start work. I am so glad they let you in because I have enjoyed your trip very much

Melissa said...

Oh my goodness, that must have been a horrible sinking feeling standing at Heathrow and thinking you might not be able to go on! So glad all went well with the trip!

Maria Ontiveros said...

So sad that travel has become so difficult. And really glad they let you in!
Rinda

Amy said...

Oops, oops, oops ... well, those children certainly do come in handy! ;-)

Ginger said...

what a scare for all of you! happy you managed to stay and made it back as planned :)

Carrie Rosalind said...

The only thing I love more than reading this story is the fact that I got to hear you tell it in person, too! :) SO glad they let you in and that everything worked out in the end!!

Mary B said...

Oh My oh my oh my
I think I would have burst into tears

Jimjams said...

Phew - that was a close one!

Lynn said...

How scary - glad they let you through!

Anonymous said...

Are they the ESTA forms which exempt you from needing a Visa? How awful for you! You were indeed lucky, we were asked for them numerous times on our way in and out and in and out of America this summer! Peachy xo

JO SOWERBY said...

gosh sounds like a nightmare. so pleased it was sorted fast otherwise i can imagine the problems you would have all had.
my problems have always been getting passports in time for holidays and at the mo i dont even have one cos they are soooooooooo expensive,
jo xxxx

ComfyMom~Stacey said...

Glad you were able to get it all sorted but given that Huntington is obviously aware of the problem you'd think they'd write "DO NOT LEAVE THIS FORM BEHIND YOU NEED IT TO ENTER THE US" on it in large letters so it wouldn't get left behind

Julie J said...

If you ever do anything like that again you are welcome to borrow my mother. She frets and fusses so much, she would have told you three times every day that you needed to take those forms. Having said that, have I ever told you the tale of our trip to America - when she managed to put her toilet bag in Dad's hand luggage - Doh!

Kirsty.a said...

Woah. So glad this is just a scary 'what might have been' story