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Confused about US visa applications
September 1, 2012 8:36 AM   Subscribe

I live in the States. A friend of mine may visit for just a couple weeks, but we're confused about visa issues. He's Italian and has an Italian(EU?) passport; he lives in Guatemala. It looks like Italy is included under the Visa waiver program and we need to apply and pay for travel authorization on CBp.gov. My questions: 1. You're supposed to pay for the application to the visa waiver program with a credit card. Friend doesn't have a credit card. Can I just use mine, or will this raise red flags? Any other options you can think of? 2. Friend visited Arizona 4 years ago via car (crossed border at Mexico) and says he did not "give back the green paper visa at the border when I left the country." is this a problem? Also, if you have any general advice about the process, I'd love to hear it.
posted by namemeansgazelle to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
CBP says "you may also have a third party, such as a relative or travel agent, pay the associated fees for each application."

By the "green paper visa," I am assuming your friend means the I-94 form, which most non-US citizens/permanent residents are supposed to turn in when they leave the US. Here's another CBP page on what to do if you forgot to turn in your I-94.

Unfortunately, it sounds like because your friend left the US via car and not by commercial air carrier, it may be a little bit more of a hassle (since he can't have an airline independently confirm he left the US). Hopefully he still has the I-94 form; if not, it seems like the best course of action would be to collect any and all documentation that he left the US and go with the steps described there.
posted by andrewesque at 8:51 AM on September 1, 2012


Sorry, bad first link: this is the page that talks about third-party payment.
posted by andrewesque at 8:53 AM on September 1, 2012


Yes, another person can use their credit card for these things.

If he forgot to turn in the I94 form he's probably ok, it's happened to me and people I know before; we're in Mexico, so we cross the border by car a few times a year. Just make sure your friend has some sort of proof that he's been living outside the US, like a bank statement or such.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 9:02 AM on September 1, 2012


Thanks so much. So--should we just apply for the visa waiver program and see if he's approved? And, if so, not worry about the I-94?
And, crazylemonade--to whom does he submit documentation/proof that he's been living outside the United States?
posted by namemeansgazelle at 9:08 AM on September 1, 2012


I have left the country with the I-94 slip a number of times and re-entered no problem. It sounds from the andrewesque link, that he just needs proof he left the country. Presumably he would have a Mexico entry stamp in his passport from 4 years ago as proof, if it were even necessary.
posted by DOUBLE A SIDE at 9:28 AM on September 1, 2012


From andrewesque's link:
If you failed to turn in your I-94 Departure Record, please send it, along with any documentation that proves you left the United States to:

DHS - CBP SBU
1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744
USA
It also gives examples of what counts as proof of having left the US. In theory, the I-94 gets stapled in your passport, so he should have it.

The problem is that if you ESTA application fails, you have to apply for a visa at the consulate, which risks turning into a kafkaesque mess, especially since they won't tell you why it failed. But then doing the right thing and sorting the old I-94 beforehand might be a kafkaesque mess in and of itself and might cause his ESTA application to fail.
posted by hoyland at 9:30 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never had the I-94 stapled to my passport when crossing by car, just by airplane. I don't even know if they'd have a record of one from 4 years ago if you don't have a visa. Seems to me that it would be more of a risk to figure out how to do "the right thing" than to just show up and say you didn't know you had to turn it in. You didn't hear it from me, but sometimes a little lie like "But I did turn it in! To the person in the cubicle thingy at the border!" Works just as well....

namemeansgazelle, if you need to show any papers at all, the person to show them to would be the customs officer. In the past I've taken with me bank statements, University i.d., proof that I work in Mexico (something that shows you're getting paid), papers that show you own or pay utilities for a house, etc. One or two of these is ok....all or more if they're easy to get and/or you're nervous about meeting with customs.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 10:46 AM on September 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would avoid lying or fudging to the customs officer. They seem to have a nose for that and it is what triggers off the Kafka. Maybe best for him to bring all documentation showing he left the US and say he forgot to hand in 1-94 if asked about it.
posted by snaparapans at 7:47 AM on September 2, 2012


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