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New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

Bergen County, New...
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New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

We returned from Rome yesterday on Lufthansa, and were stunned by a new experience at JFK. I know that this does not apply to non-US citizens, who post heavily here. But I think it belongs here.

We arrived at a slack time and got off the plane at the head of the pack. When we got to the rope maze and followed the "U.S. Citizen" path, we were offered a field of computer terminals. When I demurred, the herder said, "It's not Global Entry, it's for all citizens."

We had to slide our passports into a tricky horizontal reader and hold them against the glass with our fingertips. After approving a scan of the passport, the terminals took our photos, which we could approve or re-take. We then answered onscreen half of the questions that are on the blue and white Customs form. There was a fingerprint pad, which filled me with dread, but the machine did not order us to use it! The machine printed out thin paper slips with a fuzzy photo of us, which we took to a staffed desk. That person took our Customs questionnaire away from us and stamped the white voucher, and warned us to present it to the Customs officer. I felt like a rube from the sticks because I "know" you need a stamped blue-and-white form to exit Customs. But he said, no, I keep it.

Indeed, we got our luggage, got into the usual exit line, and presented our just-printed white forms to the guy who often says "Any alcohol?" or "Any fruit?". But he just said "Thank you", and we were on our way.

I'm mainly posting this because it was such a huge change from my last 30 entries. Timing really was due more to our position in the plane than the technology, but we were at the luggage carousel in less than 15 minutes, long before the luggage came out. We saw people exiting with blue and white customs forms to present, but we assume they were non-citizens who got them stamped by their interview officer, as always.

Edited: 06 June 2014, 22:48
Vancouver, Canada
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11. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

It reads/scans everything you have in your declaration. We entered in March at JFK and didn't see the machines. As Canadians we enter through the US Citizen lines, I wonder now if we can do that as well. Much faster than waiting for the agent.

Brooklyn, NY
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12. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

**It reads/scans everything you have in your declaration.**

In what declaration? What you enter in the machine?

What I am saying is that suppose you forget to declare something and then get "pulled" for additional screening. I always found it helpful to be on the plane and have time to remember what i am bringing home. I hope they would not hold it against you that you forgot to declare something at the machine.

This past March, I came home from Bangkok with appr $1200 that I declared. I was pulled over and the customs officer had me pay an appr $10(I still have the receipt) "fee' as he said that I went over the allowance. He thanked me for declaring the correct amount. I told him that I had declared a similar amount in the past. He said that the customs office that dealt with me was "probably lazy."

New York City, New...
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13. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

@WeQueen ..you mean the Southern Neighbors. We have had this Global Entry card for a while that allows to clear immigration really quicks.

Also, i did not know that Canadians could go through the US Citizen's line.Can American Passport holders go through Canadian citizens line at Canadian Airports ?... ..coz.....Toronto Pearson Airport is such a hike .....I would love to cut the lines :)

Vancouver, Canada
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14. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

Aside from the Global Entry (Nexxus), any Canadian passport holder goes through a different set of automated machines that process our passports and entry documents. Have had that for a few years. I am not a Nexxus holder but enter the airport (not the land entry) using these machines and bypassing an agent.

Yes, we go through the same lines as US citizens when processed through a "live" agent, at least in JFK. (Entering the US through "domestic terminals" US Customs and Immigration is in Canada. I do not know if US Citizens get to use the Canadian Citizens/Residents line on entry to Canada. I doubt it.

To answer Ter's question: the machine scans that entry form you fill up and normally hand over to an agent. You feed it into the machine together with your passport. Machine reads them.

Edited: 07 June 2014, 02:31
Bergen County, New...
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15. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

Referring to my OP, the JFK Terminal 1 machine (U.S. citizens ... ) did not read nor scan the blue-and-white Customs form in my presence. There were fewer Yes/No questions on the computer screen than there are on the paper form. I did not enter any items purchased or their prices on the screen.

I gave our blue-and-white form to a human, who put it under his desk and rubber-stamped both of our thin white printouts from the computer terminal. That's who explained that we would surrender the stamped forms to the Customs guy at the exit.

It has occurred to me, since, that this process gave the NSA and other agencies an extremely firm link between my photograph and my identity, for future facial recognition usage. Just saying ...

New York NY
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16. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

I experienced this on Day 2 of it being in operation in the terminal I had arrived in at JFK - it was during the winter months.

It was very fast and efficient - you're out of there in less time.

I fly the London - JFK route a lot and as a U.S. citizen I've always wondered why they spend so much time with face to face - now they cut down on the labor (and the hassle for citizens). The computer knows who to flag with an X and who is extremely low risk and it basically splits people into two groups - those with an X and those without. If you don't have an X, you can hand the piece of paper to the agent as you pass - if they don't suspect anything suspicious, you keep walking.

It always seemed silly to me to tell an agent that I'd been to the UK and for how long - they don't care but they were just going through the motions. This is much more efficient.

Vancouver, Canada
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17. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

The Canadian machines are totally different then. Machine processes your Customs and Immigration form and spews out a copy which is then surrendered to an agent.

New York City, New...
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18. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

I was researching it. It was tested at few smaller airports and now it is being introduced at bigger and busier airports. Chicago is unveiling similar system for US/Canada and ESTA countries.

Woodbury, New York
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19. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

sorry if it was asked before, but is this for US Citizens AND green card holders?

I'm glad we flew through Dublin to JFK last month when coming back!

20. Re: New U.S. Citizen Immigration Experience at JFK Terminal 1

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