I have a Swiss passport and an American passport. My American passport is expired. So I am going home in 2 weeks to Switzerland and I am asking if I can come back, with a Swiss passport, to the United States?


Quick summary:

  1. The CBP (Customs and Border Protection) and DHS (Deparment of Homeland Security) are quite clear about the entry requirements: US citizens need a valid US passport to enter the US when arriving by air. However, they are also very vague about what happens if you don't have one.
  2. As a US citizen, you can't be denied entry, which is in direct conflict with the requirements above (See for example https://law.stackexchange.com/questions/16654/can-us-citizens-be-denied-entry-to-the-us). In practice, most likely you will get in, however the CBP can make the process miserable for you.
  3. No airline will let you board a flight to the US with an expired US passport and they have every right to deny you boarding if you don't have proper paperwork.
  4. You can try to apply for an ESTA using your Swiss passport, however during the ESTA application you have to list all citizenships that you have. As a US citizen your application will be denied, so you would have to lie on the application. See https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/application.html?execution=e2s1. Lying on your ESTA is probably not a good idea as it's actually illegal: https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-hrsp/legacy/2011/01/31/1546.pdf
  • 1
    He can use his Swiss passport to board the plane... but it's technically the wrong passport for entering the US as a US citizen. Presenting the expired US one with his Swiss one at US Customs might satisfy the immigration officer, even if this isn't the ideal way to proceed. Nov 20 '17 at 22:28
  • 4
    The question then becomes can a US citizen get an ESTA on their foreign passport without lying to the US authorities? An alternative approach would be to fly to Canada or Mexico on the Swiss passport and then approach the US border by land but ultimately what the asker should really be doing is applying for an urgent passport renewal. Nov 20 '17 at 22:32
  • Updated based on the comments.
    – Hilmar
    Nov 20 '17 at 23:48
  • If they cannot validate your US citizenship but can validate your swiss citizenship, I would think they could potentially claim you are lying about US citizenship and deport you to Switzerland. They just can't deport you to a place you aren't guaranteed right to enter i.e. A citizen. They can't refuse me entry more because they can't prove another country must take me. Nov 21 '17 at 0:27
  • @JimMacKenzie Swiss Airport staff will not board a passenger travelling on a Swiss passport without a visa if they don't hold a return ticket (which they check electronically at special control booths before you reach the gate)
    – Crazydre
    Nov 21 '17 at 0:29

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