U.S. has 328 ports of entry that include 116 airports and 14 seaports. The port of entry is an officially designated area at US land borders, seaports and airports approved by US Customs and Border Protection which act as the immigration check counter. Upon your arrival in the U.S. you will have to pass through this counter. The immigration/customs officer will ask you certain questions, stamp your passport, and finalize your travel dates online on Form I-94. You are legally allowed to stay in the U.S. till the date printed on your I-94 and visa.
The airport you arrive at is a Port of "Entry" where CBP officers are responsible for verifying the entry and exit of visitors. You must always hand-carry all important documents such as your passport, tickets, IDs and comply with the rules and regulations to minimize delays at the port of entry.
To summarize, this is what happens at the port of entry:
- Immigration officer verifies your travel documents (passport, visas).
- Immigration officer may ask questions about the details and purpose of your visit.
- Immigration officer will take digital picture and digital finger print. (known as US-Visit program)
- Stamp your passport with the admission stamp along with the date of entry, the visa class, and the duration of admission
- Verify the information on the form I-94 including dates, name, etc. and bring any errors to the officer's attention immediately. Alternately, you can also contact your local CBP (Customs and Border Protection) office or call 1- 877-CBP -5511 Monday-Friday, between 8:30 and 5:00 Eastern Time.
Have you insured yourself before boarding your international flight?
Know what your options are with travel medical insurance
How do I convince the immigration officer at the port of entry that I must stay for a longer time period?
For parents visiting USA, they need to satisfy the officer with a proper and genuine answer that justifies a longer stay. Visiting family and traveling are good reasons. They should be able to convince the officer that they will not overstay their term under any circumstances. A letter from the sponsor can request a stay for 6 months stay for their parents, while citing the reason of their stay
A sample letter may look like this:
The Immigration Officer,
Dear Sir/Madam, I, [Name of Invitee's], residing at the above address, am writing on behalf of my parents/mother/father, [Name of the visitor(s)], since they/he/she cannot understand and speak English properly. The purpose of their/his/her visit is to spend time with us, and travel to different parts of the country. I will be accompanying them/him/her during their/his/her tour. Since I am a full time worker, I can only show them/him/her around and take them/him/her to various places on week-ends and long weekends. A six months stay would give us more time to travel and spend quality time with each other. They/he/she have already booked a return ticket for [Month, Year] and I have obtained the health insurance for them/him/her for a period of six months. I request you to let them/him/her stay for 6 months in the U.S.A. Thanks in advance.
* The information in the bracket must be appropriately filled.