Last Updated on May 28, 2022
So I’ve arrived in the USA! The whole entry process was pretty painless considering all the paperwork and waiting there had been! My ‘Point of Entry’ was Chicago O’Hare Airport. I double checked with a worker to ensure I was joining the correct line. ‘Visas and First Time ESTAS’. I was travelling with my family, they went down the returning ESTA channel and I ended up being put behind them in the line anyway! This was helpful as it solved any ‘strange’ security questions, I was told I could just go up to the desk with them.
Arriving Into the US on an Immigrant Visa
The first part of the process was standard ‘visitor’ procedure. I handed over my passport, landing card and the big ‘DO NOT OPEN’ Visa envelope. My fingerprints and photo were taken and then I was asked the following questions:
- Does my husband already live in the States?
- How long have we been married?
- How much money was I carrying in cash (around $2000…I believe only over $10,000 gets questioned).
The border guy then told my family they could go and collect all of our baggage and I was taken into a back room full of benches and around 20 other people that were waiting too. He took my paperwork to an office out the back and I sat and waited until my name was called. This took all of around 5 minutes! I was handed back my passport, minus the visa pack and told to have a good day! Security pointed me back in the right direction.
I met back up with my family at the now empty baggage carousel. I was so relieved to see all of our bags had turned up! (Only one had slight damage!) We joined the Customs lines. As I was emigrating, the customs official told me to go down channel 2, I asked if my family could come with me just to help carry my bags and he said that was fine.
A few minutes later he came and found me, he hadn’t realised my paperwork had already been processed and told us it was fine to just go through as they were happy with the declaration form so didn’t really need to check us any further. Hurray!
And that was it!
It took 1 hour from the plane landing to getting through arrivals, but the airport was surprisingly quiet considering it was the summer holidays. (I have had to wait at the border for over 2 hours before when travelling on an ESTA!)
The part that was most confusing was checking in for my flight in London. I flew with United and I was unable to check in online because there were only options for if you were a resident or a visitor. I was neither! I was in Limbo, just because I have my visa pack didn’t mean I was a resident, the final part is processed once you cross the border. Once I was an Heathrow, there was an option on the check in kiosk for travelling on a visa which wasn’t online. There was a little box to enter the visa number, this is the red number on the visa page that’s stuck in the passport.
I was travelling on the CR1 visa from London Heathrow to Chicago, as always my visa posts are just to be used as a guideline, other people’s experiences may be different. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments below, or if you’d like to send me a private message, my email address can be found on my About Me page!
12 thoughts on “USA Point of Entry Procedure CR1 Visa Arrivals”
Congratulations on making it to the US! Hope you’re very happy here. I look forward to reading about your adventures.
Glad you made it to Iowa with very little stress, looking forward to seeing pictures of your home and the area you live in. I hope you enjoy a long, happy and Healthy life together. X
Thanks Heather! I got offered a job today too so I’m pretty happy! X
Hi Kylie so pleased you all got there safe and sound. Sending lots of love to you all. Please email me your email as managed to delete it! Well done on getting the job too. Looking forward to reading all your adventures. Say hi to Jesse love Aunty Lucy xxx
Thank you! I’m not sure if I’ve got your email, I’ll send it to Emma to pass on 🙂 xx
So delighted you are finally here and so envious of your O’Hare experience – it took me 2.5 hours to get though at Easter!
Oh wow! I was lucky then!
Welcome to Iowa! Don’t worry, mosquito season is almost over 😉
Hey Kylie, I happened upon your blog whilst searching for CR1 info…interestingly enough, I’m also planning to move to Iowa (as you say, not necessarily through choice but because my wife is from there) from Staffordshire and we are around the same age. We’ve just submitted my i-130/130A so we’re a way off yet, how long did your application roughly take from start to finish? any tips for a guy beginning the process and any tips for life in Iowa? I have been before, we’ve likely taken that same flight (tiny plane from ORD!)…glad you seem to be settling in well! I’m excited and nervous!
Hi Tony! Good to hear from you! Mine was completed back in 2016 and at that point it took around 9 months…I do have a post with the timeline of when I submitted all the forms etc as well as information about all the next forms that’ll be coming up! I believe they are taking around 18months at the moment. I’m in the middle of removing my 2yr conditions and what should only take a year is taking nearly 2 now!
Cool! What part of Iowa are you moving to? I’m just outside of Dubuque which is a 3hr drive from ORD…I’ve only taken the flight once…it’s so expensive so it’s cheaper to drive! We’ve just come out of the ‘polar vortex’ where temperatures reach -53c which was CRAZY!!! Winters are absolutely FREEZING! From what I could find you get 30days driving on your uk license before you’re expected to take the Iowa driving test but it’s laughable…it’s like 20 minutes long and you just drive around the block! All my theory test questions were the exact questions on the practise test on the Iowa DOT website!!! Driving here is a joy compared to back home 🙂
Any other questions throughout the process, feel free to ask, I’m happy to try and give you a hand. You can find my email address in my bio as well. Good luck!