A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration attorney and counsel. Contact Info: 732-632-9888, http://www.1visa1.com/ (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

New U.S. Air Travel Security Requirements Take Effect

Catching an international flight to the LAX?   Make sure you give yourself enough time for some new security measures imposed by the U.S. government at check-in. Starting Thursday, October 26, 2017, international U.S.-bound travelers are subject to additional security screening during the check-in process.

What to Expect at Check-In?

Under the new security measures, passengers are subject to short interviews or questioning by airline staff.  They will be asked to provide details of their trip, such as the purpose of the trip, where they will be staying at, who they will be staying with, etc.  Also questions will be asked about their luggage and hand-carried items. Did they pack their luggage themselves?  Did they take any items from others?  If so, do they know what is inside?   Electronic devices may also likely be examined carefully.  Because different airlines may train their employees differently, passenger experiences may vary when boarding different flights.

Why are These Measures Imposed?

The U.S government has been beefing up its security measures to counter terrorist attacks during the last decade.  For example, a ban on laptops inside the flight cabins was imposed on 10 targeted Middle Eastern countries and their airlines previously.   In June, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced a hose of new measures for aviation travel including: Enhancing overall passenger screening; Conducting heightened screening of personal electronic devices; and Increasing security protocols around aircraft and in passenger areas; and Deploying advanced technology, expanding canine screening, and establishing additional preclearance locations.  The airlines had 120 days to comply.

Impact of the New Security Measures

The new measures affect approximately 2,100 flights coming from 280 international airports carrying approximately 325,000 air passengers daily to the U.S. from 105 countries.  Hence, they are bound to create some confusion at the beginning.  Many airlines remind their passengers to arrive the airport at least 3 hours before the scheduled flight.  The reaction is mixed.  Some passengers find the new measures annoying while others think that they are necessary to improve security.

Important Reminders

Nowadays, many people travel internationally for business or personal reasons.  To make sure that you have a safe and event-free trip, you should take certain measures.  Bringing a valid passport with  6 to 12 months of validity period is required. Make sure you pack your own luggage and do not accept anything from others.  Have your trip itinerary and related documents handy so that you can answer questions quickly.  Remember, in addition to the airline employees, the immigration officers at the destination airports will also be asking you questions. If you carry a mobile device or a laptop computer, make sure that you don't have any personal or private information inside, as these devices can be subject to search and examination by the authorities.

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