This post could be long. Since I landed in the USA last week, many friends have been messaging me asking me about my immigration experience. I decided to write a post and share with you all.
I took a direct Delhi to JFK Air India flight and arrived in New York City on 16th July at 7 AM. My friend used this opportunity to visit her brother in Boston. We were given immigration forms to fill in the flight. It had objective questions such as if you are bringing food, illegal items etc. and an address field to tell them where you will be staying. When landed we were directed to immigration section. I knew it would be easy, but I was wondering how it would be for my friend. Queue was clearing quickly; I heard that it takes hours, but was a 10-minute procedure. A nice woman at the counter greeted us. She looked at my visa, “So, where are you heading to?” she said with an interested smiling face. “Duke” I replied while scanning my fingers. She checked my Visa and opened my I20, “Oh!! Duke University!!!” she was amazed and looked at my friend and congratulated both of us. That is it; we were asked no more questions, we headed to baggage claim section. (Others were comparatively asked more questions.)
After taking our baggage, we headed to another section right before the exit where two men were checking our immigration forms, visa and scanning our luggage. They were a bit rude to others, but they hardly made anyone open their luggage. Queue movement was smooth. Be advised that here trolley to carry luggage is not free unlike in India. Those who are changing flights at New York will also have to go through this before boarding next flight.
As soon as I came out, an airport staff woman recognized from a distance that my eyes were searching for something. “May I help you with something?” She asked. “I am looking for taxi.” I replied keeping my bags down.
“A taxi? Where do you want to go?”
“Penn Station.” That’s where I had a bus to Boston.
“Why would you go to Penn Station in a taxi? Why don’t you take our Airport bus service that costs only $16?”
“Oh that’s a great option; I would like to take this bus.” I was wondering why my brother and friends in Manhattan did not suggest me this bus. I went to the bus ticket counter. I was carrying only $300 and an ICICI bank Debit card. I had to swipe my debit card because the cashier did not have balance $8 (total $32 for 2).
It was a smooth experience; New York has two more airports. There you might have different experience. I was at JFK. The airport is not connected to Penn Station by Airport express railway, so bus is the best and cheapest option. If you have heavy luggage, they will help you in handling it. Just some basic things are not free, such as trolley and emergency phone booth, though you have option to swipe your card and get a temporary SIM. Our Airtel phones got T mobile network, but after 30 minutes of keeping them on. Messages at roaming cost ₹20, incoming as well as outgoing calls cost ₹30. Make sure you turn off your cellular data before landing in New York, or you will be charged immediately for using it.