If you’re coming to the United States, the first person you meet on arrival will be an officer of Customs and Border Protection, or CBP. The officer will inspect your passport and documents, so have all your visa paperwork ready.

CBP officers are trained to be on the lookout for people who might be using a tourist visa to gain entry to the United States for illegal purposes or a permanent stay. Here are the most likely questions you’ll have to answer.

What is the purpose of your trip?
(hint) Your answer must match your visa. If you have a tourist visa or visa waiver, you don’t want to say “I’m here to study” or “I am looking for a job here”.

Where will you be staying?
(hint) Giving very generic answers, like “at a hostel” or “with a friend” may raise red flags for the officers. Be prepared to give the name of the hotel you’ll be at, or the address of those you’ll be staying with. Printing a hotel reservation or letter from a family member would be a good idea.

Who will you be visiting?
(hint) You can say family, friends, business partners, or just to travel by yourself. Again, the officer is looking to see that you have clear — and legal — plans.

How long will you be staying? / Do you have your return ticket?
(hint) The officer wants to know that you don’t plan to stay longer than you should. Even if your visa says “multiple entry” or “one year,” they would like to see your return ticket. Have your return ticket printed in hand just in case.

How much money are you bringing?
(hint) The officer wants to know you will be able to cover your expenses in the US.

How often do you come to the United States?
(hint) The officer is looking to see whether you are using nonimmigrant visas as a way of living in the US.
Exercise: Do a quick role play with the tutor to prepare for your answers.

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