December 25, 2009

Difficulty for Japanese Women Traveling into the US

I would like to inform our male members that it is much easier for them to travel to Japan than it is for our female members to travel into the US. For some reason, US immigration is very restrictive about Single Japanese women traveling into the US, and many are interrogated harshly and/or denied entry. Since this is a possible occurrence for our female members, we ask our male members to take this into consideration and elect to travel to Japan to visit our female members. This has the added bonus that our male members will get a better understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture, a closer connection to our female members, and is the easiest option for everyone.
Here is a scary account of entering the US from one of our female members.


Every time I travel to the US, going through immigration is the worst part of the trip. It is frustrating and process sometimes seems to kill the souls of those behind the counter no matter which country they are in. Standing in line (the immigration line for non-residents is beyond belief), waiting with many other non-residents, and dealing with the clerk, who looked like they had never smiled in their entire life, looked at me like I was a murderer trying to ask for a knife. (I do not think that my Passport picture look like I where shoved up against a wall for a mug shot though.)

This sounds like an unbelievable story, but it happened to me. I was not detained and interrogated by US Immigration when I arrived in the U.S. two years ago for visiting my girlfriend, but yeah, it was a pretty awful experience. It appears that the immigration people simply did not believe that I was visiting my girlfriend. This is insane. They took me to the other room (not including a humiliating strip search. Phew.) asking me if I really was visiting my boyfriend. Which I understand could be a red flag in itself, because it can make immigration people simply very concerned that I am planning to get married while I was in the country. I assured immigration people I had no intention of doing so. Hey! I was visiting my girlfriend! Really! I know that they are trained to spot certain behaviors that may be suspicious. But I was completely innocent ( like I said, I really was visiting my girlfriend...not boyfriend. Well I wish... but I have no luck with that though.) and just have a lot of worries on my mind I guess. And you know if you make them feel that you are very nervous they will become suspicious. Immigration officers was very interested in questioning me with several additional options such as ‘How did you meet this friend? ', 'What is your occupation?', 'What do you do for XYZ company?', ‘What is your position?’, and ‘what town do you live in?' etc... Honestly though, I felt angry though. I am not a drug trafficker or intend to commit a crime. However; Immigration officers have the power to deny you entry to a country, so I kept being honest but be straight and to the point. I would not say that this appears to be disgraceful behavior on their part, because immigration officers play an important role in international security...but yeah, it was a pretty awful experience. Eventually, I was allowed to pass through though.

And there is another story... This time, I was asked to get my luggage and 'go to that room' after trying to get through at customs when I visited another friend in the U.S. The guy in there was very brisk and unfriendly( I know they just doing their job but still... you know) and immediately took to a thorough search of my luggage (including my very personal belonging too) and lots of questions about the purpose of my visit. I do not remember the details very clearly, and the details aren't yet clear on exactly why I was asked to get my luggage and I do not know why it went down. The guy at the desk asked what the real purpose of my visit was, and I told him I was on holidays and I was visiting my friend. He also asked how long I intended to stay, and I told him 8 days. He said I can not stay longer than 90 days, I told him I knew that and would not. He asked how much money I had with me. He also asked some other questions, but I don't remember them. Eventually, I was allowed to pass through though-- having re-packed my luggage myself, of course.

Every single time when I go through U.S. immigration... I would have to have a lot of worries on my mind. It may help to show that I have a job, savings, family back in Japan which proves that I have ties requiring me to go home and honesty is usually the best policy? But telling customs I'm here for visiting my boyfriend is almost definitely a bad idea. This could be a red flag in itself, because it can make immigration people simply very concerned that I am planning to get married while I was in the country. So the best course is to say I am merely visiting a friend, and leave out all the romantic stuff? But at the same time, I would think is lying to customs like this likely to get me in trouble somewhere down the line? Can they check up on this stuff? Do not ever lie to immigration. I should to be clear on how honest I should be about this. But maybe don't lie, but be having a decent story straight and stick to it? During the questioning obviously do not lie but never volunteer extra information? Just answer the basic question? Simply say I am visiting a friend? If they want more details by asking more questions then just answer them as they come? I believe that I do not have to the official everything about my life? etc...

So, I hope you now have some ideas of going through immigration can be very frustrating for Japanese travelers arriving in the US. Especially single woman can stand out repeatedly. Really. There is not much you can do about it. If your lady decides to say that she is visiting a friend, it can be nice for her to have someone that they can call to corroborate her story. I have no idea what sort of information they store, but it seems likely to me that they're going to ask something about her boyfriend(could be you), or be suspicious that she is now returning to the same area, but this time visiting a ' friend '.

Please, always remember for your beautiful Japanese lady, that Immigration officers have the power to deny her entry to your country, and they can ask for the phone number of her boyfriend (could be you) and call him (could be you) to corroborate her story. Additionally please keep in mind for your lady that U.S. immigration laws are changing constantly.


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