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#1 Jun 17, 2021 7:55 pm

New Historian

Landing in USA with the wrong visa, or wrong face...

Fortunately I got my first US visa a long time ago in the seventies when it was relatively painless. After a couple of renewals, the US Embassy finally honoured me with the mother of all visas: a multiple indefinite. Great, no more worries.  In about 2002 I landed in Miami on a routine visit; the immigration man looked at my passport and said: “Sir,”. Uh-oh, it’s never a good sign when they call you sir. “Sir, are you aware that Congress passed a law last year, doing away with multiple indefinite visas?” No, I said. “Yes sir, under the new law all existing multiple indefinite visas are turned into ten-year visas. And your visa was issued ten years and ... two months ago. Sir, you have no valid US visa.”

Oh shit. He closed his station and escorted me to “the room”, at least I wasn’t handcuffed. I took a number and looked around: funnily enough, all of us in the room were either Black, Latino or Asian. I took out a book, this was going to take a while. More people trickled in: black, Latino, Asian, black, black.  A couple hours later, my number finally was called. The officer was pretty decent about it, I wasn’t to know there’d been a change in law. They issued me with a temporary visa and charged me a US$100 “administration fee”. I didn’t have that much cash, so an immigration officer escorted me into the terminal to the ATM. Fairly painless, all things considered.

At least they had cause to stop me that time, and were reasonable about the whole thing, I guess after unilaterally canceling all previously issued multiple indefinite visas, they had to deal with a tone of cases like mine. The next time US Immigration decided to fuck with me they had no such excuse. Another routine business trip: from Jamaica to Miami and beyond, all papers prim and proper and well used. I was connecting in Miami to Atlanta and didn’t have much time in transit. The Immigration man flicks through my well-worn passport, I sometimes think they’re bored and want to peek into everyone’s business. He peeked into mine.

“Sir, I notice you’ve been to Portugal?” Was that a statement, or a question? Clearly the latter.

“Yes, twice actually. Lisbon, on business. Lovely city, very European.”

Hmm. He flicks some more.

“And Thailand?”

“Yes, with my wife. Delayed honeymoon, brilliant trip.”

More flicking

“Sir, could you please come with me?” I tried mild resistance.

“Excuse me, is there a problem with my visa? I’m sure it’s up to date, Sir, and I do have a connecting flight to catch …”


When you get the second Sir you know you’re fucked. Resistance is futile, he locked his cubicle and I followed him out of the Immigration Hall, all eyes on me like I was some illegal immigrant, down a long corridor and into ‘the room’. To repeat from the first episode: I took a number and looked around: funnily enough, all of us in the room were either Black, Latino or Asian. I waited, and waited. The time for my connecting flight came and went, now I’d have to find a hotel for the night in the zoo of Miami, at whatever friggin’ time they let me outta here! I began to get pissed.

“Mr. Samuel!” Final fucking e.

Another cubicle another interrogator. Who, on flicking through my passport looked puzzled.

“Why did they bring you in here?”

Are you fucking shitting me? With extreme self-control I answered that no, I didn’t know why they hauled me out of the line, with perfect documentation, made me wait for five hours in a hot room, miss my connection and have to find a hotel room in Miami at midnight. No, I didn’t know. He actually had the balls to smile:

“Have a nice day, Sir.”


#2 Jun 18, 2021 9:04 am


Re: Landing in USA with the wrong visa, or wrong face...

I think I was amazed how easy it was to get in America in the early years.  A good friend of mine told me came to America in the 1970, with no visa.  He was lucky saw members of the military walking through and just walk through with them.  He encourage another one of our friend to do the same thing, but he got to nervous and they detected him and send him back.

The good ole days, when there was no terrorisms.

Still awaiting the publication.

Last edited by Slice (Jun 18, 2021 9:06 am)


#3 Jun 18, 2021 12:15 pm


Re: Landing in USA with the wrong visa, or wrong face...

Lol.  That is why I am not too hard on ' Brown skin people ' from the Caribbean and elsewhere coming to North america , Australia too , being forced to reevaluate ( good word,lol ) their place  in the world.
Be that as it may , most are quick to realise  here  is not  St Georges , Kingston or Bridgetown ,  or ....
But most are quick to get the message and join the civil rights movement. 
That is why ' I can't be too hard on some.'
Brother or sister  , fighting for their rights.

Last edited by Dancer (Jun 18, 2021 12:17 pm)


#4 Jun 18, 2021 1:09 pm

New Historian

Re: Landing in USA with the wrong visa, or wrong face...

With me my reevaluation happened the other way round: I grew up knowing I was a black immigrant kid in London - shades of black didn't matter - then moved to Jamaica aged 18 where on my second day in Kingston, this urchin shouts out:

"Hey, white man, gimmie a dollar nuh?"

I looked around: who de ass yu talkin' to, yoot?

"You, white bwoy!"

Over night I'd transformed: from black/brown to red/white; from oppressed to oppressor! Not a change I welcomed.


#5 Jun 19, 2021 1:28 pm


Re: Landing in USA with the wrong visa, or wrong face...

Sometimes ,  silence is better.    ....but...

What a life  journey N H  ,  from sad to glad and all in between.
Gotta be .


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